The Border Management Authority (BMA), with apparently its first in action period over the year-end break behind it, is, a keen watcher of its progress or lack thereof maintains, “a mess”.
He is Adrian Roos, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow home affairs minister. Attempts by him to obtain more details on the BMA, especially as regards funding supposedly committed to it, have not proven successful.
Last year he was informed the BMA would go ahead, notwithstanding not all funding being secured at a personnel cost of R2 974 962 978 and a further R5 281 133 622 for goods and services. Roos is of the opinion, in view of the BMA mandate to co-ordinate border control and security, funding would be better spent on maintenance and repair of facilities such as buildings, ablution and water supply and having this work done by the Defence Works Formation. At the same time he wants the allocation of funds for SA National Defence Force (SANDF) patrols, an integral component of the ongoing Operation Corona border protection tasking, increased.
An approach of this nature, Roos maintains, should see National Treasury either come forward with “funding guarantees for full BMA implementation or its mandate should be adjusted to that of a lead agency”.
Adding to his concerns are three government departments which reportedly have not yet provided input as needed in terms of BMA legislation. The three are Dr Joe Phaahla’s National Health, Bheki Cele’s SA Police Service (SAPS) and Patricia de Lille’s Public Works and Infrastructure.
Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) is, along with other national departments involved, including National Treasury’s SA Revenue Service (SARS), working on memoranda of agreement for personnel and funding transfers to the fledgling BMA.
Asked if Reserve Force personnel were called up for “BMA duty” over the year-end period, the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) indicated discussions were “still underway”.
Making matters more complicated as regards Reserve Force utilisation for the BMA, either as a call up duty or as part of the yet-to-be confirmed Border Guard, is that the SANDF Reserve is – and has been – without as Chief since Roy Andersen retired in June last year. This was highlighted by Kobus Marais, DA shadow defence and military veterans minister.