Lack of and poor SANDF prime mission equipment maintenance will see more meetings

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In pursuit of solutions to the multiple problems facing the national defence force and the sorry state of much of its prime mission equipment (PME), Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) envisages meetings with those responsible.

This is the gist of the PCDMV response as per a Parliamentary Communication Services statement issued after a meeting this week. That was when an Armscor presentation by chairman Phillip Dexter laid bare the sorry state of the SA Air Force (SAAF) and highlighted a raft of problems with the SA Navy (SAN) as regards mid-life upgrades for its blue water fleet and the landward force with a blunt suggestion to cancel the majority of work on the R16 billion plus Hoefyster project to provide a new mobile infantry capability.

PCDMV co-chair Cyril Xaba is reported in the statement as saying “the committee will schedule meetings with the Chiefs of the Arms of Services to further drill down on their requirements and the condition of their core capabilities to determine how best the committee can support them (sic)”.

Current incumbent of the defence and military veterans ministerial office suite, Thandi Modise, reportedly told the committee “one weakness of the department relates to maintenance of PME”. In addition to stressing a need for “solid and sustainable maintenance systems” to ensure PMEs retain a high level of operational ability, Modise raised a question around beleaguered Denel, currently a State-owned enterprise (SOE) resorting under Pravin Gordhan’s Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

“Is it correctly located, should it revert back to the Department of Defence (DoD)?” she reportedly asked PCDMV members.

A suggestion by the Armsor chair for a strategic discussion on the future of Denel and Project Hoefyster (the new infantry fighting vehicle for the SA Army) was welcomed by Minister Modise and the committee. “Such a discussion can assist with pragmatic proposals to National Treasury which the Minister undertook to lead,” the statement reads.