President Cyril Ramaphosa had his Commander-in-Chief cap on when he addressed the country’s airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers in Polokwane last Friday.
Sadly, he shed no light on improving the lot of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) during the premier military event on the South African calendar – Armed Forces Day.
Instead he gave those on parade and watching what can only be termed a presidential pep talk revolving around what the military, across all four services, has and is doing. This includes continental peacekeeping, national border protection as well as building bridges, repair of water infrastructure, support to the SA Police Service and other taskings.
Not once did the President give an indication this week’s national budget might see the South African military be given an if not bigger, at least the same size, slice of the National Treasury pie it received last year.
He did allude to the necessity for more personnel to be deployed as part of the national border protection tasking – Operation Corona. “These men and women do remarkable work in safeguarding our borders. We commend them knowing the vast stretch of our border requires far more resources on the ground.”
That was it, no indication of extra funding to provide the sorely needed extra boots on the ground.
The air force, army, military health service and navy received a Presidential nod of appreciation but it looks as though the tough times the SANDF has had financially will continue. Will there be any decrease in the amount of work and number of taskings for the SANDF? Unlikely, unless there is some Ministerial backbone shown and Cabinet is told it is impossible for the national defence force to continue doing more and more with less and less money.