As the northeastern areas of South Africa face the possibility of floods and infrastructure collapse because of torrential rains from tropical cyclone Freddy, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has drastically slashed the budget for the SA Air Force (SAAF) helicopters, which save lives in such emergencies.
Defence journalist Dean Wingrin, noting that the SAAF operating budget for choppers had been slashed by almost a third, wrote on Twitter: “Like the ugly stepchild, the SANDF is forgotten and unloved, fed scraps and only just tolerated.
“Yet, when disaster strikes and your home is threatened, who is always called? The SANDF of course!”
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Ironically, the news came just as President Cyril Ramaphosa was extolling the virtues of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on Armed Forces Day as being “more than a defence force”.
The SANDF budget has been increased, although at less than the rate of its cost increases – and it is still around half of what taxpayers fork out for the police.
And while the military were sucking it up, the government was allocating a further R1 billion to help bail out South African Airways (SAA).
The SANDF provides vital service to society in times of crisis. We cannot afford to allow that capacity to be lost.