The South African Military Digitisation Programme has been launched to record, profile and digitise the history and experiences of all military veterans from both the statutory and non-statutory armed forces.

“Basically, by digitisation, we mean providing an electronic form any content that can be accessed by cell-phones, tablets and personal computers through internet and other means or can be seen on television screens,” says Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim.

He explains that the initiative has three goals: to promote the stories of the veterans for all South Africans to learn from; build ICT (information and communication technology) capacity and skills; and package the content for commercialisation. It also has four outputs: interviews; registration of military veterans; a portal; and an interactive web site.

“There is a sense in which by military veterans telling your stories, it can also help in your psychological healing,” Carrim says.

The programme has already achieved some progress:

* It is anchored on a principle that “nothing for military veterans without them”. So a training programme was developed to capacitate military veterans on media skills, and 30 of them have been trained.

* To support the programme, a Steering Committee has been established.  It provides oversight of and expertise on the implementation of the Military Veterans Programme.

* A database of bio-data and information that is relevant to the production of documentaries on the life and history of individuals, groups and organisations that were involved in armed struggle in South Africa has been developed. There are more than 1 000 names of military veterans that have been uploaded onto the database through the G-3 Fieldwork Support Application.

* About 200 video recorded interviews have been conducted.

* There is an interactive web site created on military veterans where some of the content generated is uploaded for the public to view. The web site allows military veterans anywhere in the world to register on to the system.

“Another aspect being considered is an electronic list of all the countries that accommodated military veterans, the activities in those countries and families that remain there,” Carrim says. “This will also include organisations that supported the armed struggle and the nature of the support provided.”

He says that, besides the direct goals of the programme, is also complements the Department of Communication’s work on Broadcasting Digital Migration and the Broadband Policy and Strategy, SA Connect.

The programme is being carried out in co-operation with Department of Military Veterans (DMV).