SA’s top soldier right on decline upon a decline in the SANDF


South Africa’s senior soldier – SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief – General Rudzani Maphwanya has it spot on in that the decline upon a decline has to be arrested.

Arresting the decline is – or should that be was – the first milestone set out in the revised 2015 Defence Review released by then Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. That the current SANDF chief used a gathering of the local defence industry to point out the decline still has to be arrested in no small way says “nothing was done”.

Taking into consideration this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Review it’s a sad indictment on South Africa’s military management.

The Review called for by then Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu – now in her seventh Cabinet position – saw Roelf Meyer and a handpicked team bust the proverbial gut to come up with an all-encompassing review – except for finance. Thinking at that time was once the Review was approved, attention would go to how the supposedly new SANDF was to be financed.

This, obviously, didn’t happen and it’s another can kicked down the road by government. Apart from Maphwanya’s pronouncement, there has been no official word from current minister Thandi Modise on what – if anything – is going to happen.

At the same time the SANDF and its overseeing government authority – the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) – plans to scale down its small contribution to government’s National Development Plan (NDP). The plan aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in the coming eight years.

The SANDF contribution is its military skills development (MSD) system which started out with two volunteer intakes a year for two years of military training and skills acquisition.

Less funding from National Treasury saw annual intakes of around two thousand with just 1 704 young men and women accepted into the ranks of the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Army, SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and SA Navy (SAN). Those were accepted from 133 000 applications, showing a willingness to work and learn from volunteers.

At this early stage of 2022, defenceWeb sees yet another year of talking austerity and belt-tightening for government’s military component which is unlikely to find a fairy godfather at National Treasury.