SANDF Corporate Communications not really communicating


According to the latest available Department of Defence and Military Veterans annual report, for the 2014/15 financial year, the Communication Services Sub-programme provides defence communication policy, strategy and plans in a centralised corporate communication capability, services and products in order to enable effective, efficient, interactive, two-way communication between the department and its stakeholders.

A look at the department’s website, particularly the SA Army portal, proves this wrong.

How “effective and efficient” can communication be when the newest item posted on the portal of the largest component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) marks its second anniversary of posting today (August 24)?

Given the size of the landward force and that it includes nine separate formations and two brigades, surely there must have been something to report on its website – which is seen and read all over the globe – in the intervening 24 months?

In terms of the other two combat oriented arms of service – the SA Air Force (SAAF) and the SA Navy (SAN) – it’s slightly, but not much, better.

The SAAF portal leads with the arm of service’s involvement at the Rand Show, held in March this year followed by a piece titled “Appetite for soldering raised at Armed Forces Open Day”. Proof again, as most users of computers know not to ever wholeheartedly trust electronic dictionaries.

The SAN portal, from time to time, runs updates but again, given the maritime arm of service’s involvement in anti-piracy and counter-poaching operations, there is much it can tell the world and South Africans who still buy into the “People’s Navy” concept created by former Navy Chief, Johannes Mudimu.

According to the annual report the performance indicator for SANDF corporate communication products and services was set at 95% for the 2014/15 financial year. It met the “percentage compliance with annual requirements in terms of media liaison, communication information products and services, as well as marketing and communication support requirements” but no indication of a baseline is given so the measurement has no meaning.

Again, according to the 2014/15 annual report, because it is the latest one available, 53 personnel members were assigned to SANDF Corporate Communication. This includes officers from all four arms of service, support personnel and, from time to time, interns. They are based at SANDF headquarters, arms of service and, in some instances, bases and formations.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, the director of corporate communications for the SANDF should have had a staff complement of 65 for that reporting period.

It’s just possible, but not probable, that some extra eyes would have picked up on the “newest” posting on the Army portal being in 2014.