Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise says the department is embarking on a multimedium-term strategic planning process to “rescue” the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Modise was speaking during the debate on the Defence and Military Veterans Budget Vote in parliament. She said this strategy would be actioned under the ministerial directive and guidance of the chief of the SANDF.
She said a scientific evaluation of the SANDF painted a bleak picture of its diminishing capabilities, largely because of persistent budget cuts.
“The ravages of underfunding and unserviceable capabilities against escalating tasks has had a devastating effect,” she said this week.
Modise said in the plan, the SANDF calls for comprehensive border safeguarding optimisation; the establishment of a rapid reaction capability; the establishment of a maintenance, repair and overhaul capability to maintain its legacy systems; and revisiting a soldier’s personal equipment and overall needs.
“We need to be cognisant of the uniqueness of the SANDF. Universal military practices must inform the structuring of the SANDF including structuring into combat formations with a complementary command and staff system at the military, strategic, operational and tactical levels.
“I have directed that work begin to reconfigure, reposition and reorganise the department to ensure coherent command and control, and appropriate governance and accountability.”
Modise said vacant senior posts in the defence secretariat must be filled by the end of the 2023-24 financial year. “This is important for the enhancement of civil control. The posts of secretary for defence and chief financial officer are in the process of being filled.”
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Due to the underfunding of the Compensation of Employees (COE) allocation, the department will most likely incur unauthorised expenditure of about R3 billion in the 2022-23 financial year.
Modise said the department received a total budget allocation of R51.1 billion for the 2023-24 financial year, a net decrease of about R500 million from the previous adjusted budget. Of the R51.1 billion, she said R30.6 billion had been set as the ceiling for the COE.
“I am in constant engagement with the acting secretary for defence, the chief of the SANDF and the department to find lasting solutions, including concrete actions.” She said she had instructed the SANDF chief to rejuvenate the force.
This would require an urgent review of practices and criteria used to recruit, select, appoint, promote and place SANDF members.
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