Air Force chief apologises for Museum closure


SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang and the Air Force Command Council have apologised for the inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of the SAAF Museum headquarters and one of its satellites.

“The heritage of the SAAF is a crucial part of its history and existence and we will ensure the necessary security and administration efforts to preserve it are implemented accordingly,” he said in a statement.

The airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is the second oldest Commonwealth air force in the world after the Royal Air Force (RAF) and its museums, located at air force bases Zwartkop in Pretoria, Ysterplaat in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, attract thousands of visitors every year.

The current closure, announced via social media yesterday, is due to the Reserve Force man-days allocation review process and the “overall safety and security appreciation at the various SAAF Museums across the country,” the Air Force statement said.
“The SAAF has decided to temporarily close two of the three museums to the public until the review processes are completed.”

When the reviews are finished the museums will again open to the public with an expected date of Wednesday, October 8.

Afrikaans daily Beeld reports the Reserve Force man-day allocation is affecting other units, including the SAAF College in Thaba Tshwane. All told, the paper said, there are “a few hundred” Reserve Force members affected.

Part-time instructors at the College and other training units are among those whose man-day allocations are currently used up.
“The air force finds itself in a tight financial situation and it is no secret its budget is too small to keep units and aircraft operational.
“As far as can be established no proper plan was put forward for the current financial year as regards the deployment and utilisation of Reserve Force members,” Beeld said.

A retired senior Air Force officer said October was “normally” the month in the financial year where some activities grind to a halt as money in a specific budget line item is depleted, in this case man-days for SAAF Reserve members for the Museum.
“This is not always due to bad planning, but mainly due to unforeseen and unavoidable expenses during the course of the financial year. The SAAF and other arms of service and divisions, consolidates all line items, does some shuffling and dealing and re-allocates according to priorities for the rest of the financial year.
“This allows certain items/activities to be funded again. Let’s hope man-days for the museum is one of them,” he told defenceWeb on condition of anonymity.