The annual performance plan (APP) of the Department of Defence (DoD) for 2020/21 was this week tabled at a meeting of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV).
In his introductory message, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief General Solly Shoke states the APP “presents both the allocated and full budgetary requirements for the defence force and the difference indicates the financial constraints to fully fund defence capabilities to enhance our combat readiness status. Even with these budgetary constraints the SANDF will, in support of South Africa’s foreign policy, continue to fulfil its international obligations, inter alia, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of the Force Intervention Brigade, and maritime security in the Mozambique Channel”.
The SANDF “will maintain current operational capability within current operational strength due to financial distress,” is how South Africa’s top soldier summarises the position of the national defence force.
With South Africa’s notoriously porous borders again in the spotlight thanks to breaching of a still-under-erection fence adjacent to the Beit Bridge port of entry in March, Shoke elaborates that “The SANDF will continue to support the people of South Africa by protecting our borders against multiple security threats such as weapons smuggling, maritime piracy and terrorism among others.”
He also sees “intensification” of border liaison with neighbouring countries to “leverage partnership and collective security where resources are inadequate”.
In a reference to the ongoing budgetary problems, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Department of Defence Secretariat, the SANDF Command Council and Shoke himself state that “within available resources, the SANDF will make use of force multipliers to monitor borders”.
Secretary for Defence Dr Sam Gulube looks more to the 2019/24 medium term strategic framework (MTSF) in his introductory statement.
“Sustainment and modernisation of defence capabilities with associated resourcing, to ensure future relevance and ability to execute ordered commitments as directed by government, remains central to the APP.
“In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and associated rapid pace of technological change, establishment of a Defence Strategic Research Capability will serve to inform multiple defence trajectory options, best suited to optimally position defence in this rapidly changing contextual environment. The exploitation of information, communication and technology across the defence portfolio as a key efficiency lever will be pursued, serving as a force multiplier while departmentally imparting scarce skills and creating the organisation of the future.”
On the South African military’s support to the developmental state, Gulube notes it will enable local economic transformation and the sustainment of communities where defence has a footprint through Project Koba-Tlala. This will be achieved through establishment of agricultural hubs to uplift women, youth and people with disabilities in identified rural areas and communities.