SANDF registering successes, says Sisulu

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pretoria - A number of successes have been achieved in addressing the systemic challenges within the SANDF, says Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Speaking at a lunch with the Foreign Correspondence Association of South Africa, the minister said challenges had developed after budget cuts in 1994 due to limited resources and a growing demand for basic services in the country. These structural arrangements of departments also saw the SANDF being treated as another government department.

"Today we are able to say we have created a new dispensation for the SANDF to operate in its own military dispensation out of the public service. This allows for the Commander in Chief and the SANDF to develop systems and programmes to take the SANDF to a higher level of state of readiness without the red tape of the public service," said the minister.

She added that the military was unique and the systems that manage it should also be unique.

The new dispensation for the SANDF was introduced with the Defence Amendment Act that came into being in December 2010. "We are convinced that in this new dispensation the SANDF would be able to reach a higher level of readiness to be able to achieve its constitutional mandate of protecting the nation."

Sisulu said the SANDF remained committed to the advancement of the African Agenda and security of all its people and children and that the development and strengthening of the African Union (AU) was of great importance to South Africa. Central to Africa s economic development is a united Africa working together to address its challenges. 

"Apart from being UNSC members, South Africa and Nigeria are also members of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), presenting a unique opportunity to ensure alignment between the work of these two bodies regarding conflict on the continent. South Africa began its two-year term on the AUPSC in April 2010," said the minister.

South Africa has been deployed in peacekeeping missions for more than 15 years. 

These deployments in countries like Burundi and Sudan not only stabilised these countries and allowed for economic development, but directly provides the opportunity for South African entrepreneurs to diversify their trade profile on the continent and investment in African economies.

"To support peace efforts and economic development during the coming 2011/12 financial year, we will be deploying a total of 2240 military personnel in operations across the African Continent, in the DRC, in Darfur, and the CAR.

"Our support to elections in Mozambique, the DRC and recently the referendum in Sudan, has allowed us to appreciate the SANDF's logistical ability in coordinating elections and providing logistical and security support," explained the minister.

She said the SANDF had also been participating in two large Peace Support Operations (PSOs) under the signed Memoranda of Understanding between the DRC and Sudan. 

"The SANDF deployed on average more than 2 000 personnel per day in the DRC, the Sudan, and the CAR. These deployments were in support of UN and AU peace support operations and post-conflict reconstruction. Our experience in leading us to redefine peace keeping to ensure that post-conflict reconstruction is a central post of our work."

The SANDF, in cooperation with the SAPS, also provided successful support during the FIFA World Cup. It provided airspace security, Special Forces teams, maritime resources to ensure maritime safety, chemical, biological and radiation (CBR) teams, as well as medical support to the Department of Health. On average, 4 573 members were deployed per day for the duration of the operation.

The SANDF is also playing a role in keeping the country's borders secure. The borderline control function, under Operation CORONA, is being adopted in a phased-in strategy.

The first phase on the Zimbabwe/South Africa border and the second phase on the Mozambique/South Africa border have been rolled out. The last phase of the strategy with regard to the Lesotho/South Africa border will be completed in the financial year 2012/2013.

"Since the deployment of the SANDF cross border syndicates have been decreased and illegal crossing are going down very fast. It is our commitment as the SANDF to bring to stop illegal activities across our borders with our neighbouring countries. It will not take a day but we are committed," said Sisulu. 

She added that the deployment of soldiers along the border of the Kruger National Park will also strengthen security in the Park and bring to a stop to Rhino poaching. - BuaNews

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