Christmas bonus for Defence Force

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cape Town - There was jubilation at the Youngsfield Military Base Sisulu today after the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu announced salary increases of up to 102 percent.

Sisulu was briefing soldiers and members of the airforce and navy during a tour of the base today.

Members of the South African National Defence Force in lower ranks would get the biggest increases, with second year trainee soldiers getting a 102 percent increase, from a current gross salary of R2 643 to a salary of R5 343.

Privates would receive a 49 percent increase - from their current salary of R5 286 a month to R7 871, a month.

Sisulu said the immediate relief for salary bands two to 12 was one of two measures which had come out of the report of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission.

The second measure announced by the minister, was the drawing up of a draft bill for the National Defence Force to create a "clear, distinct dispensation" for the defence force.

The commission was set up in September to investigate the establishment of a separate dispensation outside of the public service to address challenges within the South African National Defence Force.

Sisulu said the report could not yet be released to the public as it was a "work in progress" and still had to be approved by Cabinet.

She praised the commission for working "tirelessly" to deliver its report in only two months - in time to announce the salary increases before Christmas, particularly as the department had not budgeted for the increases this year.

Bonus payments would be withheld and a new bonus system would take effect next year, said Sisulu.

This followed a number of complaints which had arisen around how bonuses were paid out.

The amount which would have gone to pay bonuses would be distributed evenly among all those in bands two to 12 who had adhered to the military code, which worked out to an additional R1 688 for each member of the defence force.

Sisulu also announced a new HIV and AIDS policy for the defence force which allowed for the equal deployment and treatment of those members who were HIV-positive.

"I believe we're the only country in the world that has allowed (such a) policy".

While the department intended to attend to infrastructure backlogs, the minister also announced that she intended to turn around her department to improve its credibility after repeated bad audit records.

She said this would help the department in its quest to get more funds from Treasury.

In another major development, Sisulu said President Jacob Zuma had agreed just two days ago to the formation of a separate Department of Military Veterans.

She said troops would be sent to the border to protect the country's territorial integrity and to release the pressure on police who could instead be freed up to concentrate on fighting crime.

The Defence Force would continue to hold joint operations with police.
Sisulu said that the government was "extremely proud" of all those who served South Africa in the Defence Force and asked that all members uphold the code of military conduct and restore dignity to the uniform they wear.