Ms T Modise
Minister of Defence
PO Box 47
Mr TSP Makwetla
Deputy Minister of Defence
PO Box 47
Mr ME Nchabeleng, MP
Mr VC Xaba, MP
Chairpersons of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence
Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
PO Box 15
Dear Honourable Minister Modise, Honourable Deputy Minister Makwetla and dear Honourable Chairpersons
Request to intervene in the matter of complaints against the Director General of the Department of Military Veterans
1. I was recently approached by a representative of military veterans and an individual military veteran who laid serious complaints against the Director-General (DG) of the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), Ms Irene Mpolweni.
2. This is the second time I have addressed a serious matter involving Ms Mpolweni with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. The first being my correspondence of 3 September 2021 regarding: “Suspect precautionary suspension of four senior Department of Military Veterans’ managers: allegations of impropriety against newly appointed Director General Mpolweni”.
3. In this matter the complaints read like a litany, where there seems to be consensus that military veterans are being, either ignored or not properly cared for in terms of the Military Veterans Act, 2011 (Act No. 18 of 2011). Their frustrations are palpable with the staff of the department as well, who seem to take their tone from the DG.
4. Allegedly the DG made unilateral changes in service providers, that, instead of improving, negatively affected the delivery of services to the veterans.
5. According to the one complainant, the military veterans’ dependents’ education benefits have not been paid for years and yet “year in year out money is being returned to the National Treasury because it was not being utilised for its intended purpose.”
6. Seemingly the DG and her support staff are presently in KwaZulu-Natal for training, whilst the veterans feel they are not being upskilled in practical skills that would ready them for the job market. From what I understand, the short-lived ICT training programme was, and still is, fraught with difficulties and controversy.
7. The DG appears to have a bias towards KwaZulu-Natal in her dealings with the military veterans, to the detriment of those in other provinces.
8. Most seriously is an allegation that Ms Mpolweni wasted the Department’s funds on a recent trip to KwaZulu-Natal, when she apparently had a meeting with veterans from that province, only to have flown back to Gauteng and calling those veterans to meet her in Pretoria. Apparently, some staff members had accompanied the DG, only to seemingly have stayed behind for a weekend of fun. This must be queried and independently confirmed or disclaimed as the veterans feel aggrieved at this alleged wasteful expenditure.
9. I have attached the two connected complaints to my letter for your ease of reference in which the complaints, some of which I have addressed in this letter, has been laid out.
10. Given the seriousness of the allegations in my 3 September 2021 letter, and those contained in these letters of complaint, it would behove the Minister and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence to address the contentions surrounding Ms Mpolweni.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement