The first phase of the 2021 intake of Military Skills Development (MSD) volunteers started at the weekend with application forms carried in an Afrikaans and English Sunday newspaper.
This was followed on Monday by the same application in the Daily Sun with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) informing “young and deserving youths of the Republic that application forms for MSD” were in Rapport and City Press.
Judging by the minimal number accepted into service a week ago, any exhortation to job hunters to apply early in the hope of being accepted can be discounted.
There were over 133 000 young South Africans who applied to the SANDF to be part of the 2020 MSD intake. A miniscule 1 704 – just over 1.2% of all applicants – were accepted to the four arms of service.
Those planning to volunteer firstly learn basic military skills and then undergo specialist training in a specific mustering.
Given the number of recruitment scams the national defence force has encountered over the past few years, a warning was issued ahead of 2021 MSD applications opening.
Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, Director: Defence Corporate Communication, pointed out to applicants “no money or fees” are payable for MSD applications adding the national defence force “does not utilise third party individuals or organisation for recruitment purposes”.
The small number of MSD volunteers the SANDF accepts is another indicator of what budget shrinkage has done to the force. In years gone by, as an example when Mosiuoa Lekota was Minister of Defence between 1999 and 2008, some years saw two intakes of MSD volunteers, in January and June. Even during his time at the helm, defence was becoming an unwanted relative when it came to disbursement of National Treasury funds.
He once told a briefing if Defence doesn’t have money, it must be found because the training provided by the SANDF, both in terms of discipline and skills, was important. Lekota said if needs be he would approach the then Department of National Education for assistance “because the SANDF is teaching, isn’t it!” Back then South Africa had only a single department of education which morphed during the Zuma years into a Department of Basic Education, under Minister Angie Motshekga, and the Department of Higher Education and Training overseen by Minister Blade Nzimande.
For those wishing to apply for the MSD programme, the requirements are that potential candidates are South African citizens (no dual citizenships are allowed), are between 18 and 22 years old (graduates can be 26), have completed or are currently in Grade 12, are not area bound, have no record of serious criminal offenses, are preferably single and comply with the medical fitness requirements of the SANDF. The requirements for the South African Air Force are more strict as qualifications are required for pilot training.
MSD applications close on 29 February 2020.