At its most recent meeting, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) was briefed by the Department of Defence (DoD) on its budgetary review and recommendations, with a not encouraging outlook.
In a statement released by Parliament’s Communication Services the committee highlights the wage bill of Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s department as “a large concern”.
The committee also heard the major equipment acquisitions currently underway are “under threat given the limited funding in the Special Defence Account (SDA)”. The acquisitions will see the SA Army receive new infantry fighting vehicles in terms of Project Hoefyster, currently more than four years behind schedule and the SA Navy add a new hydrographic vessel and three inshore patrol vessels, officially called multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPVs).
“The committee heard the DoD is in a quagmire, given the SDA budget will be cut by R5 billion and it is currently engaging with National Treasury,” according to the statement.
On the wage bill – the single largest expenditure in the defence budget – the PCDMV statement notes that the DoD “requires an average human resource strength of 77 000” but a strength of 75 000 will be maintained to “assure a more sustainable defence capability”.
The committee was also told even at a strength of 74 104 for the 2019/20 financial year, the DoD still has a shortfall of R2.7 billion for compensation of employees. “One method of addressing this was been to transfer R1.6 billion from goods and services, but the DoD has yet to recalibrate funds to make up the rest of the shortfall,” according to the statement.