Joint Standing Committee on Defence visits RDM, DSCT

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Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) has paid a visit to Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) and Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) as a follow-up to engagements it had during the JSCD’s June 2023 Study Tour to Germany.

According to Rheinmetall Denel Munition, the engagement on 3 November allowed RDM a platform to update the members of the JSCD on RDM’s contribution to the defence sector of the economy through its 1 500 first-tier suppliers, and its continued support and prioritisation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) despite the increase in export business demands.

RDM assured the members of the Joint Standing Committee of its commitment to support the SANDF and the South Africa Police Services in strengthening national security.

“RDM remains at the forefront with cutting-edge technologies to remain competitive in the global defence market and is currently devising a strategy to assist the SANDF with the modernisation of their systems through upgrading and turning off the existing assets and economically viable options of demilitarisation of unserviceable ammunition,” the company said in a statement.

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence at Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s Western Cape facility.

The discussion also involved the coordination between RDM and other state organisations such as Denel, Armscor, and the National Convention Arms Control Committee (NCACC) to create shared value.

At Damen Shipyards Cape Town, the JSCD was able to get a firsthand view of operations at the shipyard, which is finishing construction of the third and final multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) for the SA Navy, the SAS Chief Adam Kok (P1573). This is 55% complete and will be delivered in the third quarter of 2024. Crew training is in progress. On 27 October, DSCT handed over the second MMIPV, SAS King Shaka Zulu, at a ceremony in Durban.

The JSCD’s study tour to Germany took place between 25 June and 1 July, and, according to a report for Parliament, intended to study “international best practice on selected pre-identified defence-related matters that align with the oversight mandate of the Committees.”

Focus areas included the SANDF’s Force Structure and Force Design and comparing these to international best practices. “The international comparison with other militaries’ spending on Compensation of Employees (CoE) and succession planning allowed Parliament’s two Defence Committees to make recommendations in this regard. In particular, to assist with ensuring fiscal stability in the Department of Defence (DoD) who is currently exceeding CoE expenditure ceilings set by National Treasury. The Study Tour was thus aimed at directly addressing one of the largest sources of irregular expenditure in the DoD. The Study Tour also reviewed military force rejuvenation in Germany, which impacts on youth employment opportunities.”

Second, the Study Tour aimed to engage Germany on the management of their defence industry and the parliamentary oversight thereof. “Findings in this regard feed into the JSCD oversight of South Africa’s Aerospace and Defence Master Plan and efforts to boost the Defence Industry’s economic contribution and potential for employment creation. It also links to the JSCD’s oversight of the state of preparedness of the SANDF as it relates to its prime mission equipment, which is a constitutional requirement of the Committee,” the report continued.

In total, a dozen members of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans visited Germany where they engaged with Hensoldt Germany, Hensoldt South Africa, the German Parliament, Naval Vessels Lurssen (NVL), Rheinmetall Germany, and Tamsen Maritim.