Speech by Hon Des van Rooyen on the Government Employees Pension Laws Amendment Bill and the Non-Statutory Forces` contributions towards a pension and the benefits thereof

28 September 2011

Hon Speaker
Hon Ministers
Hon Deputy Ministers
And Hon Mp`s

In their work to determine essence of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, authors Spear and Cavallo both agreed that if government of the day doesn`t ensure that former combatants find a livelihood and submit to laws and norms that govern civilians, it runs the risk of having combatants that may have difficulty in finding a productive position in the legal civilian economy and may maintain an oppositional stance towards society and government. In our response to this reality as the ANC led government we started by establishing an inclusive in SANDF. The SA National Defence Force was formed through the integration of seven former forces on 27 April 1994. Five of these forces were Statutory Forces whereas the other two, namely Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the Azanian People`s Liberation Army (APLA) were Non-Statutory Forces.

The principle of addressing the imbalances of the past has been the linchpin of our integration process. Guided by this noble principle we dealt with pension provision took the following trajectory:

Before the integration of the forces, the Statutory Force members were contributing to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and stood to receive pension benefits on termination of their service. The former Non-Statutory Forces (NSF) members on the other hand did not have the opportunity to contribute to any pension fund. This created a disparity between the former NSF members and the former Statutory Forces members in as far as pension benefits were concerned.

At its meeting of 24 November 2010 Cabinet approved the tabling of the Report of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission. This report follows Cabinet`s decision in 2009 to create a new service dispensation for the Defence Force.

Following that decision, the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission was established to, amongst others, advise and make recommendations on a unique service dispensation outside the ambit of the Public Service. The report covers challenges faced by the SANDF since 1994, the root causes of the problems and proposed short and long term solutions.

Cabinet approved the extension of the revised NSF pension dispensation to cover all former NSF members who entered into an employment contract with other government departments and institutions that contribute to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). Cabinet furthermore approved the alignment of the current Special Pension Act and Government Employees Pension Law (GEPL) to enable recognition of NSF service of affected current and past employees.

The intention of the NSF Pension Dispensation is, therefore, to address disparities in the fairest manner possible. In other words, the intention is to put the former NSF member (who joined the Public Service) as far as possible in the same position as former Statutory Forces member for pension purposes.

The Government Employees Pension Law Amendment Bill seeks to amend certain aspects of the GEPL. The object of this Bill is, inter alia, to amend the provisions providing for the recognition of pensionable service of former members of non-statutory forces or services.

The current GEPL states that former members of the statutory forces or services must in accordance with the rules, apply to the Fund to have their service as members of statutory forces recognised as pensionable services. The effect of this is that the services rendered by members of the NSF may either be recognised or not, the assessment being based on the rules of the Fund.

The Bill seeks to enable the implementation of a revised Non-Statutory Forces Pension Dispensation. On 15 April 2009 and 24 November 2010 Cabinet approved the revision of the NSF Pension dispensation. This provided for:

  • abolishing the need for former NSF members to contribute to the funding of the recognition of their NSF service by the GEPF;
  • recognizing the full period of NSF Service by all former NSF members who were subsequently employed by government departments and institutions that contribute to the GEPF; and
  • providing that special pension benefits paid to qualifying members who are still in service should cease at exit and that members should receive their full benefits in accordance with the GEPF rules.

To realise these objectives the bill amends section 30A (2) of the principal Act. The amendment indicates that the benefits payable to members of the NSF shall not be reduced by the amount of any benefit received in terms of the Special Pensions Act and that members` eligibility to receive any benefit in terms of the Special Pensions Act shall cease on exit from the Fund.

In conclusion, Speaker it is our submission as ANC that the provisos of this bill will enable us to fast track the improvement of our ex-combatant welfare. This bill concurs with the clarion call made by MK gallant fighters that mazilunge into za makhomanda.

As the ANC we support the Bill and call for its expeditious implementation.


Anusha Pillay
ANC Parliamentary Media Unit
Tel. No. 021 403 3911
Cell: 0823706932
email: apillay@parliament.gov.za