21 January 2018

South Africa: Military Veterans Department Caps Education Benefit

The Department of Military Veterans says it has had to reprioritise funds and trim their basic education support to beneficiaries because of an increase in demand for benefits and budget cuts.

"For new applications for the 2018 academic year, the maximum benefit will be R20 000 per learner per annum. This is to ensure that in spite of budgetary constraints, all military veterans and their beneficiaries who qualify are provided with this important benefit," said Military Veterans Deputy Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe, speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria on Sunday.

For continuing learners, the threshold will remain at R42 500 in 2018. However, in 2019 the maximum amount for all learners in basic education will be capped at R20 000.

In 2017 the department provided education support to 7712 military veterans and their dependants.

"For this academic year [2018] the number of applicants has increased to 11 600, with about 4000 new applicants. This increase means that the department needed to take immediate steps to ensure that the available resources are spread among all qualifying and deserving applicants," said the Deputy Minister.

In addition to the spike in new applications, the Deputy Minister said the increase in benefits and the budget cuts from the National Treasury meant the department had to tighten its belt.

"The increase in demand for benefits has resulted in a serious budget shortfall for DMV as from the previous financial year. The further budget cuts announced by the National Treasury in December 2017, of 5% in the case of the DMV, further increased this shortfall," said the Deputy Minister.

A total of 11 benefits are listed in the Military Veterans Act, all of which have to be funded within a limited budget. These include burial support, housing, healthcare, pension, a public transport subsidy, employment placement, education and skills training, memorialisation of fallen veterans, counselling and compensation for disabled veterans.

The Minister and the Deputy Minister met with the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) and its affiliate associations on 17 January 2018 to explain the financial pressures facing the DMV and to solicit support for the its proposals.

Acting Director General, Max Ozinsky, said the department is open to engagement on solutions and models on how to better roll out benefits to military veterans.

Higher Education Support

The department is also mandated to fund all continuing military veterans and their dependants studying at higher education institutions. This is subject to beneficiaries meeting the DMV qualifying criteria.

"In line with the statement of the President of the Republic, the Honourable JG Zuma on the 16 December 2017 with regard to the provision of free education to poor and working class students, the DMV will engage the Department of Higher Education and Training and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

"This is to ensure continuing students studying in public higher education institutions who meet the criteria will be provided with the education support benefit through NSFAS," said the department.

All military veterans who have enquiries are encouraged to be in contact with the department or visit its website at www.dmv.gov.za.

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