It is common knowledge the only employment a large percentage of Reserve Force soldiers and others in part-time service have comes with active duty call ups. This is to be curtailed by the Department of Defence (DoD) as one cost cutting measure to decrease its excessive wage bill.
Other plans aimed to reduce the current 60% plus of the close to R50 billion defence budget going to paying airmen, military medics, sailors, soldiers and civilian employees include a ceiling of 73 000 in the DoD/SA National Defence Force (SANDF), a military skills development (MSD) intake once every two years and re-activating the mobility exit mechanism (MEM) and employee initiated severance package (EISP). The planned measures were presented to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) by Rear Admiral Asiel Kubu, SANDF director: human resources.
The cost cutting measures will impact directly on compensation of employees (CoE), the single largest expenditure in the national defence budget and one it has been told to trim by National Treasury.
While it’s not going to see extra feet on the streets seeking employment in the short term the measures when up and running, will in all likelihood add to the national unemployment figure. According to Statistics SA this now stands at 11,9 million giving the country an official unemployment rate of 32% plus for the first quarter of this year – a record high.
The utilisation of the Reserve Force in Operation Notlela to curb the spread of COVID-19 as well as ongoing deployments in support of the border protection tasking (Operation Corona) and to support police (Operation Prosper) have over the past 18 months seen more part-time soldiers in uniform.
Kubu’s presentation will see Reserve Force mandays drop to 1 990 259 from the last available utilisation figure of more than 2,6 million.
By October this year the “sanitisation” of Reserve Force manday service types will go primarily to combat and combat support areas with “specialist skills” kept as another service part-timers will provide.