Deputy Minister maintains South Africa is “under insured” defence-wise

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Thabang Makwetla is no stranger to the South African defence sector having been deputy defence and military veterans minister for five years. Now back in the same position, he used his budget vote address to tell parliamentarians the country is now at the point where an irreversible loss of (military) capabilities is reality.

“The hollowing out of defence is more a function of a policy drift engendered by politically correct short-term popular considerations rather than rational decision making and a long term consideration of the challenges we face,” he said, prefacing the statement by explaining the “locus of security” in South Africa shifted to justice, intelligence and policing over the past 25 years.

“On the other hand, the continuous decline of our military capability over this period is such we are now confronted by an irreversible loss of capabilities and a national defence force which cannot fully meet its constitutional mandate. It is disconcerting that to restore the defence capability South Africa had 25 years ago, we need an injection of over R34 billion to the current Defence budget.

“Simply put, our country is under insured,” said the man who served as deputy between 2009 and 2014 before he was replaced by Kebby Maphatsoe.

The deputy minister echoed Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s call for “a dialogue over South Africa’s defence function”.

This would include overhauling force design to enable training and equipping of the SANDF more directly for multiple goals; designing and planning “on the basis of resource levels realistically at our disposal” and “effecting a paradigm shift from previous fundamentals informed by the security threat perceived in the apartheid days”. Makwetla sees the proposed dialogue also including “the one force concept and the place of the Reserves”.

He told parliamentarians: “We need to ensure the new military strategy enables the national defence force to develop combat, combat support and combat service support capabilities, in the Reserves and the regular force conforming to the POSTEDFIT (Personnel, Organisation, Sustainment, Training, Equipment, Doctrine, Facilities, Information and Technology) systems approach”.