The Department of Defence’s (DoD) website is one of the national defence force’s prime tools for communicating with its various publics, from South African citizens in general to more specific audiences including parliamentarians, defence attaches and the media. It has not been accessible for some time due to contractual arrangements going awry.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Director: Corporate Communications, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed to defenceWeb the official DoD website is offline.
“The site went offline as a result of the expiry of a contract between the DoD and SITA (State Information Technology Agency) at the end of September 2020, which was being administered on a month-to-month basis until a decision was taken to source a new Internet Service Provider (ISP).
“A new contract with the newly appointed ISP was intended to commence in December 2020 but due to unforeseen internal process that led to protracted delays, the new ISP was unable to commence with providing the DoD with website support. The decision to terminate the month-to-month contract with SITA was to adhere to financial compliance by ensuring that there was only one ISP paid during the transition/handover from the one ISP to the next,” the one-star general’s response to a defenceWeb enquiry reads. It adds “the DoD website will be back online as soon as possible” without giving a date.
He did not answer questions regarding updating of portals on the site. Examples are the SA Army, where the most recent posting dates back to 2018 and the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). The military medics’ portal was not updated once during the national state of disaster brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and in which military medics were in the forefront of efforts to control the spread of the virus along with Army elements enforcing lockdown protocols on social distancing and curfew in conjunction with police.
The most recent posting on the SA Navy portal is about a planning meeting for the tri-nation Exercise Ibsamar set for September. It was cancelled/ postponed due to the pandemic but this is not reflected.
The SA Air Force (SAAF) portal has just been “not available” with an injunction to “come back later”. In the year the airborne service marks its centenary such a non-commitment to providing information, even if about planned events scrapped due to COVID-19, has not gone unnoticed in the wider South African military aviation community.