Last ditch appeal to C-in-C on botched Reserve Force call-up


A disgruntled Umzimvubu Regiment officer, tasked as enlistment adjutant for an Operation Prosper enlistment call-up last July, has turned to President Cyril Ramaphosa as Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in a last ditch appeal to deal with the call-up debacle.

Points made in writing to Ramaphosa include “farcical decisions” by senior officers directly impacting on the volunteers – all with military experience – not being paid, either in cash or by alleged electronic fund transfers (EFTs). The SANDF C-in-C is also told, apart from the unhappiness of 815 willing volunteers, there were eight deaths surrounding the ill-fated call-up (from coronavirus and other causes).

The Umzimvubu officer writes further: “The members who died deserve the same benefits and fitting funerals as soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in places like the Central African Republic (CAR), DR Congo and Mozambique”.

“They answered a call made,” he continues, telling Ramaphosa he has “strong feelings” about treatment of the volunteers and he – himself – remains unpaid for his time and work a year after the call-up.

Issues around the call-up resulted in a board of inquiry (BOI) being convened. Its final report was processed through channels at both SA Army Reserves and the Reserve Force with, according to the officer, nothing yet done.

Another bone of contention around the call-up is a seeming lack of co-ordination to ensure logistics – down to basics such as accommodation, beds, rations and even toilet paper. This saw another Umzimvubu officer, a lieutenant tasked with logistics for the call-up, spending own time and money, to travel as far as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth in a hunt to at least keep new recruits clothed, fed and under shelter.

Both the adjutant and logistics officers maintain the non-payment is because the enlistees were never properly administered. “Putting people onto the personnel system – better known as persol – across the full-time and Reserve components is basic and essential to be paid for time in uniform. That this was not done again shows the haphazardness of the call-up,” they told defenceWeb.

This publication has requested detailed information on the call-up, BOI and possible further developments to the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC). Brigadier General Andries Mahapa’s directorate generally acts as a clearing point for media requests and would – or should – have passed defenceWeb’s questions to the Defence and/or Army Reserves. No response has yet been forthcoming.

The 815 enlistees, after apparently going through all the necessary processes supposedly set out in an order to the regiment in mid-2021, were sent home three months after reporting for duty. As of May this year, only 57 of those who voluntarily reported for duty were paid a month’s salary with further payment still on hold.