Sunday, July 15, 2018
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No SANDF personnel cuts despite funding decrease

South African Army soldiers.The Department of Defence (DoD) aims to keep the numbers of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) employees the same in spite of the reduction in its human resources budget.

In its 2017 Annual Performance Plan, the DoD stated that it will continue maintaining an average strength of 77 500 personnel and Reserve Force mandays of 2.7 million to execute its mandate throughout the 2017 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) in spite of a reduction in the human resources budget allocation.

“The reduction of the ‘compensation of employees’ ceiling by R1.897 billion for the FY [fiscal year] 2017/18, R2.912 billion for the FY2018/19 and R4.809 billion for the FY2019/20 may have an adverse impact on the ability of the DoD to achieve its Constitutional mandate and the security of the country. The DoD is not in a position to reduce members due to the absence of a viable exit mechanism to exit those members no longer meeting the operational profile of the SANDF,” the Department stated.

The Performance Plan noted that approximately 50% of the regulars in the Department of Defence have a contract until retirement age and cannot be exited without a viable exit mechanism. “The Commander-in-Chief has also not reduced the operational commitments of the SANDF and therefore the SANDF cannot withdraw from its ordered commitments without Cabinet approval.”

Almost 80 per cent of the Department’s budget over the medium term is allocated to spending on compensation of employees and related goods and services. The department’s budget for compensation of employees was reduced after Cabinet’s decision to lower the national aggregate expenditure ceiling.

“Reduction of the DoD budget over the years created a distortion that we are over-subscribed with regards to Human Resources,” the DoD stated. “Despite the reduction, the department aims to maintain the number of landward sub-units deployed for border safeguarding at a number of 15 per year over the medium term and the number of Defence Attaché Offices at 44 offices.

“However, the number of Military Skills Development members in the system per year is expected to decrease from 4 001 in the FY2016/17 to 3 545 in the FY2019/20. The department’s goods and services budget has also been reduced by R109.1 million in the FY2017/18, R98 million in the FY2018/19 and R125.5 million in the FY2019/20. These reductions will be effected mainly on property payments, specifically day-to-day maintenance, and non-core goods and services items such as consultants and catering.”

The Performance Plan cautioned that “Currently the DoD, within the current budget envelope, is only able to fund a total of 74 000 employees. Should the department continue with the average strength of 77 500 for the 2017 MTEF it will result in a departmental deficit on the compensation of employees with projected overexpenditure figures of R1.930 billion in the FY2017/18, R3.962 billion in the FY2018/19 and R3.915 billion in the FY2019/20.”

The DoD aims to spend R27.3 billion on the compensation of employees for 2016/17, up from R24.78 billion the year before. The figures for 2017/18 are R26.4 billion; R27.1 billion for 2018/19 and R29.17 billion for 2019/20.