Minister warned to right size SANDF rather than seek more funding


Cyril Ramaphosa’s defence minister has been warned to desist from asking National Treasury for further funding for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as a way out of the malaise facing the uniformed public service.

The warning comes from Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais in the wake of a recent question and answer session to Cabinet’s justice, peace and security cluster. It was reported, “worryingly” according to Marais, that Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula saw an increased defence budget as the only solution to the deterioration of national defence force capabilities and prime mission equipment.

“The SANDF situation is such there is an increasing risk it won’t be able to protect the country’s integrity.

“At the moment, the SA Navy fleet has almost no means to protect our maritime territory and resources and the air force lacks resources to assist in maritime patrolling and reconnaissance.

“The Minister’s insistence that the only solution to this problem is throwing money at it again shows ignorance of government’s failed economic policy over the years. There is simply no more money to bail the SANDF out and the little money there is being wasted on vanity projects like South African Airways (SAA).

“Instead of fighting National Treasury for more money, the Minister should take a decisive executive, political decision to restructure the SANDF into a smaller, streamlined and modern force with fewer personnel better equipped to deal with South Africa’s defence requirements.

“SANDF personnel should be better trained and armed, with modern technological capabilities to monitor our borders 24/7 and enable all spheres of the defence force to take decisive action at a moment’s notice against any possible threat.”

The outspoken DA parliamentarian maintains it is high time the President, as commander-in-chief of South Africa’s defence force, steps in to solve an escalating situation.

“Left in the hands of Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, the national defence force will continue its decline and eventually leave the country completely defenceless,” he said ahead of an oversight visit where parliamentarians will see for themselves at least three problem areas in the SANDF. These are the shortage of personnel and equipment to properly patrol South Africa’s porous borders; the now more than 10 year-long refurbishing of various facilities at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba-Tshwane and the Cuban-driven Project Thusano upgrading and repairing military vehicles at Wallmannsthal, north of Pretoria.