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Shelembe Urges Defence Minister To Show Leadership As Military Veterans Struggle To Access Benefits

The official opposition wants Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to show leadership and intervene in military veterans struggling to access benefits.

On Sunday, SA MP Maliyakhe Shelembe said the failure by the Department of Military Veterans to provide the Military Veterans Appeals Board with adequate resources prevented them to satisfactorily process the appeals lodged by the military veterans.

Some of these benefits include housing, compensation, educational support, facilitation of employment placement, medical support and social relief.

“We therefore strongly condemn the failure by the department to allocate budget to the Military Veterans Appeals Board,” Shelembe said.

He also said there were delays due to the Military Veterans Appeals Board, which is mandated to review appeals lodged by military veterans on rejected applications for benefits, being not allocated a budget to perform duties during its term.

The minister appointed the Board in June 2015, and their term of office expired at the end of June this year.

Shelembe said as at June 2020, out of the 463 complaints that were received by the Appeals Board from the military veterans since its inception in 2015, only 160 that have been completed and 303 were still pending due to challenges of the board’s unfunded mandate.

“This means that around 303 applicants are possibly starving, homeless and don’t have access to health care facilities due to failure by the Department of Military Veterans to recognize the importance of the Appeals Board.”

He also said the DA felt that Mapisa-Nqakula did not take the matter of military veterans seriously.

“Under the minister’s watch, the Appeals Board had no tools of the trade such as landlines to make calls in office and other monetary resources to process appeals.

“Her failure to ensure that the Board was equipped to perform its duties led to serious consequences whereby 303 complaints from the military veterans were not expedited.”

Shelembe further added that his party hoped that the minister would show leadership and ensure that the term of the new appeals board would be properly funded and supported by the department.

“The DA will write to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to request that she shows leadership and immediately address the lack of resources available to assist military veterans trying and failing to access possible benefits from the department,” he added.

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