More money for border protection will see savings – and more revenue – elsewhere


The why of justifying which government department gets how much of the national budget to do its work was highlighted during a recent Defence Portfolio Committee briefing.

It appears being named as an under-performing department is worse than not doing the job because National Treasury has provided insufficient funding. This was the gist of a response by the Secretary for Defence to a question on increased border protection deployments.

He was quoted as saying: “The National Treasury and Auditor General indicated if we set our target as 22 companies in our performance plan then we are going to be continuously cited for under-performing. We were therefore advised we should set our target as 13”.

The funding allocated to the SA National Defence Force is insufficient, a point made by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula when expressing her wish for the defence budget to be two percent of GDP.

But back to the border protection function and why it should be better funded. South Africa is acknowledged as the fifth largest market in the world for illicit cigarettes and estimates are this has resulted in a loss of tax revenue in the order of R2 billion over the last 10 years.

At the same time thousands of what are now politically correctly termed undocumented immigrants are apprehended by soldiers and handed to police and the Department of Home Affairs for processing and repatriation annually. The cost of keeping, housing and feeding these unwanted visitors and then of returning them to their home countries must also run into millions.

Why then cannot sufficient money be given to the military to properly patrol South Africa’s land borders? If this is done surely it will see a saving in what Home Affairs has to spend on undocumented immigrants and an increase in revenue collection for SA Revenue Services.