SANDF personnel costs under microscope at first portfolio committee meeting of 2021


It’s an early start to the year’s work by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) which meets tomorrow (3 February) with compensation of employees (CoE), the single largest expenditure item in the defence budget, on the agenda.

The PCDMV will hear (in all probability virtually) a presentation from Vice Admiral Asiel Kubu, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) human resources chief, on measures to reduce “cost pressures on the CoE shortfall in the Department of Defence (DoD)”.

In a report prepared for the PCDMV, it is made clear “any proposed plan that does not deal decisively with the department’s personnel headcount, force design and conditions of service of SANDF members, is unlikely to succeed in assisting the department to operate within the CoE ceiling”.

Taking this into account, the human resources presentation (seen by defenceWeb), points out it is “unlikely” Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s department will receive additional funding from National Treasury to cover the CoE shortfall.

Planned interventions suggested include downsizing, alternative calendar year intakes for military skills development (MSD) volunteers, reducing Reserve Force utilisation, capping certain allowances and re-activating “exit strategies” including the mobility exit mechanism (MEM) and employee initiated severance package (EISP).

Downsizing will, according to the presentation, “revise the annual average strength” to 73 000. It is not stated whether this is for the DoD in total or only the uniformed component – the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

The presentation has it that alternate year MSD intakes will reduce the DoD CoE shortfall by R195 million a year.

There was no January intake of volunteers this year with the presentation indicating the next MSD intake is planned for January 2022 followed by January 2024.

A reduction to 1 990 259 mandays from the current 2,6 million for Reserve Force utilisation is another proposal in the presentation. This will see a further CoE saving of R500 million.

As far as discretionary allowances are concerned the presentation has it that ending regimental, operational and scarce skill retention allowances will see R862 million saved on CoE.