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Defence Review given the thumbs up by Parliamentary review committee

Defence Review gets Parliamentary committee approvalThe Defence Review has taken another step on the long route through the Parliamentary bureaucracy to full approval with the National Assembly its next destination.

A brief statement issued by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) said a report compiled by it had been adopted by the Committee.

“The adoption takes the (defence) policy a step further towards adoption by Parliament and is a major milestone in ensuring the revitalisation of the country’s armed forces,” the co-chairmen of the JSCD, Malusi Motimele and Emmanuel Mlambo, said in the statement.

“The Committee is of the view that the adoption of this report by the National Assembly will ensure the decline in the capacity and capability of the defence force is arrested.

“It is critical for South Africa to have a viable defence force capable of protecting the sovereignty of the country and also able to contribute significantly to regional and continental requirements. We are of the view that this policy captures these aspirations,” the statement goes on to say.

The issue of funding has been apparently sidestepped by the JSCD and is put into the hands of National Treasury and the Department of Defence.

“The JSCD is cognisant of the many developmental needs that continue to require serious investment from the fiscus. While this is so the Committee in its report has recommended that, in consultation with the National Treasury, the Department of Defence must give assurances on the affordability of the Defence Review, including total cost estimations of each milestone.”

The Defence Review was instituted by former Defence and Military Veterans minister, Lindiwe Sisulu late in 2011 with a view to it being tabled in Parliament by October 2012. She appointed Roelf Meyer as chairman of the Defence Review Committee and he set it up in three components, the first being a strategic direction group with support from a resource group. The third group was a secretariat provided by the Department of Defence.

Meyer and his team travelled extensively across the length and breadth of South Africa meeting with communities, think tanks, universities and all manner of interest and affected people to elicit as wide a range of views from South Africans on what they want their defence force to be and look like.

The proposed October 2012 National Assembly tabling did not happen because President Jacob Zuma saw it fit to move Sisulu to another Cabinet portfolio and bring the current minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, into the defence hot seat from Correctional Services. This eventually led to the Defence Review 2012 being renamed the Defence Review 2014 to tie in with its progress along the department/ministry/portfolio committee/National Assembly path.

Motimele and Mlambo have recommended Parliament adopts the Defence Review.