SANDF outlines plans to reduce staff costs


The Chief of Human Resources of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has told Parliament the SANDF is making progress in reducing the costs of human resources through a number of interventions.

Vice Admiral Asiel Kubu briefed the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on 24 November on the Department of Defence’s human resource strategic plan to implement measures to reduce human resources cost pressures.

In April this year, the Department of Defence was directed by the minister of defence to implement human resources cost-saving measures, including maintaining an average strength of 73 000 personnel over the next three years; recruiting Military Skills Development System (MSDS) intakes every alternate calendar year; reducing reserve force mandays to 1.99 million; capping annual increases of regimental and operational allowances; and reactivating the implementation of exit strategies.

The SANDF spends a majority of its budget on the compensation of employees (CoE). Although it would like to downsize, there is not enough funding for a comprehensive exit mechanism (including severance packages and early retirements). Consequently, the SANDF is forced to continue spending on the compensation of employees and between 2017/18 and 2020/21, it overspent by R7.4 billion on employees.

The Department of Defence is facing a R2.8 billion budget shortfall in the 2021/22 financial year on the compensation of employees. This would have been greater, but R550 million was saved by cancelling the 2021 MSDS intake (R254 million); moving the 2022 MSDS intake to March 2022 (R51 million); capping discretionary allowances (R89 million) and the non-replacement of Public Service Act Personnel (R156 million).

Over the next three years, the DoD plans to save around R4.5 billion by reducing strength due to alternate MSDS intakes; cutting reserve force mandays; capping discretionary allowances; and implementing limited exit strategies. It estimates savings of R1.1 billion in 2022/23; R1.56 billion in 2023/24; and R1.8 billion in 2024/25.