Portfolio committee hears SANDF received only operational expense funding for Op Notlela


Operation Notlela, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) contribution to combatting the spread of coronavirus as part of the national state of disaster, was not allocated extra funds for the deployment/employment, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) heard.

The committee, chaired by Cyril Xaba, was told a R3 billion allocation was made to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) on 24 June “for COVID-19 expenses”.

By far the majority of this – R2.2 billion – went to the purchase of equipment for use by soldiers and other military personnel with R763 million marked as CoE (cost of employment). The presentation notes, as of end-July, R476 million in personnel costs were paid to the SANDF, orders of goods and services amounting to R1.5 billion had been placed of which R1.1 billion had been delivered and paid (R753 million is for personal protective equipment and minor medical equipment). Procurement of additional equipment for a field hospital (SAMHS) is in the process of being finalised.

Work is underway in procuring “additional equipment for a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) field hospital” the presentation states without giving a site.

Early on in the national state of disaster President Cyril Ramaphosa, Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, authorized the “employment” of over seventy-three thousand military personnel. According to a Presidential letter to the JSCD this number included regular forces, the Reserve Force and volunteers, in the form of auxiliaries.

The JSCD this week heard a 30 June “Presidential Minute” extended the national defence force “employment” with 20 000 personnel on Operation Notlela duty until 30 September.

The SANDF “expects” to incur expenditure of R1.5 billion for this component of its ongoing assistance to government, executed in terms of Operation Prosper providing assistance to government departments and entities.

The SANDF deployed 39 primary health care 185-strong teams of 36 doctors, 84 nurses and 65 auxiliary staff nationally to support the National Department of Health with mass screening and testing initiative.

A hundred and eight SA Army engineers are in nine provinces in support of Department of Water and Sanitation (DW&S). A total of 16 407 000 litres water was purified with 15 058 500 litres delivered to the needy over the last three months.

In co-operation with police, the SANDF over the last three months issued fines totalling R1.8 million, arrested 4 088 people, seized 318 weapons and confiscated R2,8 million worth of drugs and R73 million worth of contraband.