SANDF in “tatters” FF+ claims

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Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald maintains the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is in “tatters” following a weekend report of soldiers accommodated in torn and tattered tents while generals had luxurious accommodation for Armed Forces Day (AFD) 2023 in Richards Bay.

The report in Rapport, South Africa’s lone Afrikaans Sunday weekly, has it today’s (Tuesday, 21 February) AFD parade where President Cyril Ramaphosa is wearing his SANDF Commander-in-Chief cap, will cost R220 million.

The cost when taken alongside Groenewald’s take on the readiness of the SANDF, including it cannot keep cooling working some information technology (IT) systems and band members having to fork out bus fare for the trip to Richards Bay, paint “a sombre picture of the decline in the force”.

He also points to a loss of discipline and order saying in a statement “it is becoming ever more evident all SANDF components have declined to a large extent”.

By way of illustration he notes R26 million could not be found in the defence budget to provide equipment needed to maintain the data system, used for among others, salary payments and procurement.

“Yet there is R220 million to create the impression South Africa’s national defence force is ready and able.”

Groenewald maintains only four of 11 Rooivalk combat support helicopters are serviceable and  only two Gripen fighter jets, costing billions each, are operational, with pilots “sitting on their hands”. He adds “there is basically no warship” to participate in the Mosi naval exercise with China and Russia.

“The Navy only has two ships participating in the controversial exercise, one a survey ship, which is more than 50 years old and the other the frigate SAS Mendi (F157),” his statement reads. The newest addition to the SA Navy (SAN) fleet – the multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) SAS King Sekhukhune 1 (P1571) is also in Richards Bay for Mosi.

South African defence and military watchers point out AFD, in addition to its memorial and showcasing components, is an extended and large logistic exercise, “definitely part and parcel of force preparation and training”.