Defence budget vote address is opportunity not to be squandered by the Minister


When Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stands up in the National Assembly on May 19 to speak in support of the defence budget vote she has the opportunity to make a real difference.

If she merely goes through the motions and thanks all and sundry for what has been allocated to defence she will miss the chance of showing the wider South African defence and military community she really does care about and for those in uniform and those who support them through the local defence industry.

With the Joint Standing Committee on Defence passing the all-important financial “buck” back to her Ministry and National Treasury as far as the Defence Review is concerned, Mapisa-Nqakula should be firm in her demands for more money.

This will not only see speedy implementation of the road to Defence Review milestone one but will let Parliament, and by implication all South Africans, know their national defence force has to be properly funded. Without money airmen, medics, sailors and soldiers cannot properly execute the tasks given them by their Commander-in-Chief who is also South Africa’s first citizen and its president.

The military currently finds itself deployed internally in support of the police combatting xenophobia in addition to border protection, a major tasking which has the additional duty of stopping rhino poaching. Then there are the external continental deployments in support of AU and UN peace missions.

To make these work properly training is essential and training costs money, an item which is in increasingly short supply for the SA National Defence Force.

The Minister must take a stand in the National Assembly and tell the House in no uncertain terms the current funding level of the South African military is woefully short of what is needed if it is to be the pride of the nation SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke wants it to be.