Sisulu appoints members of interim Defence Commission

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cape Town - Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, on Monday appointed ten members to the interim National Defence Force Service Commission to assess the working conditions of soldiers.

According to the minister, the Commission will function on an interim basis until a permanent one is established though legislation.

The Commission will be an independent body established to provide expert advice to the minister on all matters pertaining to the conditions of service of the members of the military.

Members of the new Commission consist of experts from the civil society, academia and business sector.

The chairperson of the interim Commission is the presiding judge of the Boeremag trial, Judge Lebotsang Ronnie Bosielo of the North Gauteng High Court.

Other members include Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, deputy chair of the President's Advisory Council on National Orders and General Lambert Lehlohonolo Moloi, director of Denel and former chief of the service corps of the South African National Defence Force.

Rashid Aboobaker Ismail, who was a general manager and head of currency and protection services at the South African Reserve Bank, was also appointed as a member of the Commission.

Professor Renfrew Christie, economist and Dean of Research at the University of the Western Cape and Dr Anna Mokgokgong, a medical doctor and business leader have also been appointed.

Other members include Member of Parliament, Bantu Holomisa and Vice Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Professor Derrick Swartz.

The last two members are Members of Parliament, Pieter Groenewald and chair of the Joint Standing Committee of Defence and Military Veterans, Hlengiwe Mgabadeli.

Sisulu said the formal appointment procedures of the members and the Commission's terms of reference are being finalised.

She said the commission would start operating immediately and report back to her office and Parliament on a regular basis.

"It must also interact with the soldiers through the due protocols of the Defence Force and other relevant role players and interested parties.

"This will enable the commission to make appropriate recommendations to the executive," she said.

In doing its work, the Commission will conduct interviews with members of the military, conduct research and embark on international benchmarking exercises to ensure that the conditions of service are broadly in line with international best practice.

Last month, soldiers belonging to the South African National Defence Force Union (SANDU) embarked on a violent protest at the Union Buildings over a wage dispute and conditions of their service.