The four services of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and associated public service personnel totalled 73 343 in the last financial cycle which saw a shortfall of just under R3 billion in the compensation of employees (CoE) component of the defence budget.
CoE accounted for just over R30 billion of the total defence expenditure of R48.5 billion, equating to 61.89% of total expenditure. A report prepared by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans notes “this is not aligned to the aim of the 2015 Defence Review for a 40% spending on personnel”.
“It also signifies regression in terms of expenditure, given that 57.25% of the final allocation was spent on CoE in the 2017/18 financial year.”
The latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report notes “On a year-on-year basis the average human resource strength reduced by 543 from 75 053 in 2017/18 to 74 510 in 2018/19”. The reduction is attributed to natural attrition with the majority of those leaving either resigning or retiring.
“This trajectory is foreseen to continue in the medium-term, given the prescribed cumbersome appointment processes to fill vacancies. The DoD is determined to recruit in line with natural attrition in to address the downward trajectory of its human resource complement,” the report states.
In number terms the SA Army is the largest component of the SANDF with 38 217 personnel, followed by the SA Air Force (9 836), the SA Military Health Service (7 389) and the SA Navy (6 816). The report also gives personnel numbers for the Logistics Division (3 938), Joint Operations division (2 059), Military Police (1 541), Human Resources Division (1 353) and financial management (805).
Other notable human resources are deployed to Defence Intelligence (852), Corporate Staff (415), Defence Legal Service (335), Defence Foreign Relations (155), Command and Management Information Systems (146) and the Defence Inspectorate (117). The DoD/SANDF has in its ranks 59 personnel in the corporate communication directorate.
The PCDMV report makes note of a high level of vacancies in five areas of expertise. These are airspace control, aircrew (without differentiating between pilots, flight engineers other aircrew including navigators), engineers and technical staff (again no specific areas of competence given) and nurses.