The Defence Minister missed an opportunity to tell it like it really is


Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, appears to be following the good news mode that Cabinet Ministers and other elected government functionaries are intent on shoving down the throats of South Africans at present.

This is definitely to the detriment of the country’s armed forces. The generals in charge of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the four arms of service it comprises find themselves constantly having to do more with less as they strive to fulfil the tasks set for South Africa’s airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers by the government, the Cabinet and ultimately the President, who is also commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.

Going through the Ministerial statement delivered at yesterday’s peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction and development briefing, important issues are nowhere to be found. These range from the basic of improving living conditions of soldiers at their home bases through to matters including Cabinet approval of the long awaited Defence Review and what it will mean in terms of force design and equipment.

Instead the minister dwelt, at length, on SANDF deployments continentally and elsewhere as well as elucidating on the work soldiers and airmen are doing on border protection.

All these are laudable and deserving of mention but right now there are other, far more pressing, matters on the national defence agenda and Mapisa-Nqakula as the minister responsible should have used the opportunity to tell the country what, if anything, is being and going to be done about the SANDF.
defenceWeb has a sneaking suspicion these vital questions were not raised because they are going to cost money – a lot of it. In the lead-up to next month’s national and provincial elections, voters are not likely to be swayed by talk of having to spend more money to make the SANDF a defence force that can fulfil both its Constitutional mandate and other tasks government sees fit to devolve to it.