Funding needed to get SANDF back in shape

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pretoria - Additional funding is necessary for the sustainability of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), says Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

“If you are going to be sending boots on the ground and you don’t have adequate equipment to do so, it’s going to create a problem,” she said during a post State of the Nation briefing on Monday.

She said the country’s second Defence Review 2014 noted that the SANDF was in “critical decline” because of underfunding and that it could take up to ten years to get the SANDF back into shape.

The objective of the review was to create a balanced, flexible and modern force that uses advanced technology in response to the changing nature of the defence function globally.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula said that it shouldn’t take 10 years to recover.

“This is what I said to the team, it cannot take ten years, precisely because of the needs out there. My issue is that you can’t deploy, you can’t put boots on the ground if you don’t have the necessary tools to do that. You’ve got to have the capability that will assist us to work smarter,” she said.

She said to defend the sovereignty of South Africa “we must be well equipped”.

“I don’t know if there won’t be a threat against South Africa,” she said, adding that the review was a good process that highlighted both the positive and negative.

“It has assisted all of us to have an appreciation of the weaknesses, the strengths, and the needs of SANDF. I know that initially we discouraged them from attaching monetary value to the work we were doing, but we must come to a point where we present figures if we are to have the kind of defence force which we envisage,” she said.

Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla said that the review had been undertaken because of the realisation that the cutting of funds had now “reached the bone”.

“We need more units to be deployed for borderline security but our force levels are not adequate for that, our peacekeeping mission deployments have increased. So there is no further cutting, actually the reason why we are having a review is to make government and the broad public to appreciate that the defence function has to be resourced at a much higher level than we are now at,” said Makwetla.

Civilian Secretary for Defence Sam Gulube said the Council of Defence was engaging the document.

“The review has identified certain gaps, not just the matter of equipment it’s also the matter of personnel. We need to boost skills,” he said.

He expressed doubt that the process could take ten years.

“We have outlined those quick wins for the minister so that we don’t have to wait for ten years. We’ll be happy to report on it in the next midterm period,” he said, adding that there are signs of revitalisation within the SANDF. -