Better utilisation of South Africa’s military infrastructure, both equipment and personnel, is one of 25 New Year resolutions the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) hopes for from a government it says should reprioritise in the interests of the lives and livelihoods of citizens as the COVID-19 pandemic endures.
Releasing the resolution list at the weekend, chief whip Natasha Mazzone said by way of introduction: “South Africa is under immense pressure when it comes to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as resuscitating the country’s flat-lining economy. Our country already faces immense social challenges the pandemic aside. These include ever-increasing crime and gender-based violence (GBV).
“To address this new normal, South Africa needs a whole of government approach to contextualise problems in light of the pandemic to ensure we continue to uplift communities, create jobs and grow the economy.”
While the list of resolutions as they pertain to specific government departments, agencies and institutions is not prioritised, defence and military veterans comes in at number five. This puts Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s department immediately below agriculture, land reform and rural development; basic education; communications and digital technologies; and co-operative governance and traditional affairs when it comes to what the DA maintains will put matters right.
As far as defence and military veterans management and issues go, Mazzone’s party has four pointers it urges the ANC government to take note of.
The DA wants the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to urgently reprioritise defence expenditure toward effective resourcing of a smaller and more vibrant national defence force with less personnel and a smaller leadership structure.
It should also “urgently reduce wasteful and irregular defence expenditure with harsh punitive actions for transgressors. Leadership accountability has to be part of this”.
Noting both the national defence and secret service are of “an embarrassingly poor quality” a government New Year’s resolution should look to improving and rebuilding both.
The official opposition suggests government also look at transferring “the three under-utilised military hospitals to provincial health departments and reduce the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) to a strategic and military base auxiliary service”.