Millions spent on vehicles for SANDF but nothing on facilities maintenance


South Africa’s military capital Thaba Tshwane, south-west of Pretoria, is seemingly taking stress from the “no funds” malaise affecting the entire South African military machine with the exception of vehicle acquisitions.

A number of top-end vehicles were acquired for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) at a cost of more than R20 million, the answer to a Parliamentary question showed.

Questions asked of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Celliers Brink, the party’s co-operative governance and traditional affairs spokesman, and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald, brought to light the sorry state of Thaba Tshwane as well as the vehicle purchases.

Brink asked the Minister if she was aware of “poor state of maintenance of the properties and infrastructure in the Thaba Tshwane?” His question was tabled because the Tshwane Metro councillor for the ward in which the majority of military facilities, including housing, was not making any headway in efforts to obtain answers from council officials.

The written Ministerial reply notes “the poor condition of facilities in Thaba Tshwane if of serious concern”. She also said “virtually no upgrade or renovations during the last two decades due to predominantly a lack of funds and a huge backlog of maintenance and repair, poses serious structural maintenance problems for both the Department of Defence (DoD) and Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI)”.

As with the majority of installations, facilities and land utilised by the SANDF, these are government-owned and resort under the DPWI. Past unhappiness with the performance of what is now Minister Patricia de Lille’s responsibility saw the re-establishment of the SA Works Regiment and subsequently the Works Formation, also an Army entity.

The Works Formation is, according to Mapisa-Nqakula, “capacitating itself to execute maintenance and repair work”. She gives not detail on either timeline or cost.

Among others, Thaba Tshwane is home to 1 Military Hospital, the SA Army, SA Air Force (SAAF) and SANDF colleges as well as a number of barracks and messes.

The FF+ leader asked the Minister about “luxury vehicles exceeding R600 000” acquired in the last financial year and the four preceding it.

“No luxury vehicles exceeding R600 000 were purchased by the SANDF in the 2014/15 and 2016/17 financial years. Twenty luxury vehicles were procured in the 2017/18 financial year and two vehicles were procured in the 2018/19 financial year,” Mapisa-Nqakula’s reply states.

The response shows Joint Operations received three Mercedes-Benz V2500s for R1 027 804 each as well an Audi A6 for R631 365 and a BMW 540i for R831 976. The SA Army vehicle fleet was boosted by a pair of BMW X5s costing R916 883 each and the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) added a BMW 330D for R635 200, a BMW X5 for R947 633.50 and a BMW 540i for R849 526.80 to its fleet. Other vehicles went to the Logistics Division (two BMW 750is at R1 683 811 and R1 559 340, three Audi Q7Rs at R964 723 each and four Mercedes-Benz V2500s at R812 574 each); Defence Intelligence (BMW 540i for R823 326); and Defence Foreign Relations (BMW 520i for R651 862 and BMW 540i for R812 563).