Opening and welcome address by Honourable Premier R.M. Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the Meeting of the Interministerial Committee on Military Affairs
07 June 2022Programme Director,
Your Excellency, Deputy President David Mabuza;
Honourable Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Honourable Thandi Modise;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers Present;
Members of the Executive Council Present;
Senior Managers of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, led by the Director General, Mr. Makhukhu Mampuru;
- Programme Director, It is with a profound sense of pride that I welcome you all to the Province of the rising sun on this auspicious day in the history of our young democracy.
- Indeed, today is an auspicious day in our continuous efforts to restore the dignity of those who answered the call to serve the oppressed majority of our people in the war against the inhumane system of apartheid.
- I think we can all agree that military veterans played a central and significant role in birthing our democratic dispensation.
- Despite the role our military veterans played in the emancipation of the country, there has been a significant misalignment between their legacy and how we as government aid their re-integration to normal life post military service.
- In one way or another, we have all heard about the plight of our military veterans. We have heard harrowing tales of their inability to fend for themselves or their families. We have heard and seen numerous reports of military veterans being unable to provide basic necessities for their families.
- This unfortunate state of affairs is attributable to a number of factors including the lack of a coordinated legislative and policy framework that takes into consideration the wide array challenges faced by our military veterans.
- This state of affairs has resulted in the recent unfortunate developments we have seen, including the heightened tensions at the meeting convened by the Ministry of Defence and Military veterans and various military veterans formations in Irene in October 2021 as well as the recent decision by around 2500 military veterans to institute a class action lawsuit against the state requiring reparations for military veterans.
- In the Mpumalanga Province, we have taken it upon ourselves to aid military veterans. The Provincial Government has created the Premier’s Advisory Council on Military Veterans.
- This is a structure that has been created following extensive deliberations with military veterans in the Province and is premised upon the various challenges they face and have brought to my attention.
- This Council was created in accordance with the provisions of the Military Veterans Act.
- The Council is comprised of 6 military veterans whose credentials have been verified through the database within the Ministry of Military Veterans.
- This Committee is tasked with the responsibility to identify and escalate the challenges faced by Military veterans with a main focus on;
- The identification of sustainable employment and economic opportunities for Military veterans;
- Facilitation of provision of decent healthcare for military veterans, especially in light of the imminent promulgation of the National Health Insurance Act;
- Identification of housing opportunities for military veterans; and
- Access to education, training and skills development for military veterans and their dependants.
- We have encountered significant challenges in operating within the ambit of the provisions of the Military Veterans Act as the purpose and intent of the Act was to serve as the enabling legislation for the work of the Ministry of Military Veterans.
- This makes it difficult for provincial and local spheres of government to operationalize initiatives to successfully aid the military veterans without a clear and fit for purpose Legislative framework.
- In order to fundamentally address the challenges we face in rendering support to our military veterans, our strategic approach must be two fold;
- Firstly, we must develop and implement an effective, coordinated and flexible approach to all socio-economic issues and facilitate a legislative framework that apportions operational scope and encompasses government at all levels in a manner similar to the District Development Model; and
- The Ministry of Military Veterans must also develop a cloud based solution that encompasses the data of military veterans, the nature of services provided to them and all matters incidental to the support provided by different Government departments to the individual military veteran.
- Programme Director, we are alive to the challenges faced by the Ministry of Military Veterans in the arena of institutional capacity. I implore the leadership present today to apportion some of the responsibilities to the Provincial sphere of government. We are willing to enact Provincial Acts to augment the work of the Ministry in the Provincial context.
- It is the joint responsibility of government at all levels to ensure that our military veterans are defined as an organised, united and respected segment of democratic State.
- Our work today must use what I have just reflect upon as the proverbial mkhomb’indlela for the deliberation and most importantly the resolutions of this gathering.
- Programme Director, lest I abuse your indulgence, let me introduce the man tasked with the giant responsibility of ensuring that we develop solutions that will aid our military veterans. A true son of the soil, whose compassion is truly second to none, His Excellency, Deputy President, David Mabuza. Mshengu the floor is yours.
- I thank you