SANDF to cut over 3 000 uniformed personnel, impacting defence capabilities

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The current and upcoming financial years will see the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) lose more than three thousand uniformed personnel prompting the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans to tell a Parliamentary questioner it will impact on the force’s capability to deliver on its responsibilities.

Replying to a question asked by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) parliamentarian Washington Mafanya, Thandi Modise said the national defence force, among others, “remained resolute in assuring the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic”. She added the “continual decrease in the Cost of Employment (CoE) impacts negatively on SANDF capabilities”.

The aim of personnel cuts, Mafanya heard, was to reduce cost pressures by not exceeding “the average planned human resource strength of 73 000”. According to Modise the interventions aim to establish “equilibrium” between the CoE allocation and the number of people needed to maintain an effective defence capability.

A billion Rand is available from National Treasury in the current financial year (2022/23) to “assist the DoD (Department of Defence) to fit in the CoE allocation” with R800 million earmarked for the 2023/24 financial year. The funds will see the “planned exit of approximately 3 048 uniformed members through MEM (mobility exit mechanism).”

Turning to making the SANDF a better – albeit smaller – force, Mafanya wanted to know from Modise whether competency assessments are done to ensure “deserving soldiers” are promoted on merit.

A qualified “yes” was the ministerial response which, among others, pointed out, assessment started at entry level and continued with “formal military courses” where soldiers are further assessed/evaluated.

“Successful completion of programmes is an indication of competencies and merits” needed for promotion. Additionally, uniformed personnel undergo performance management and development evaluation annually.

“Member profile, competency and performance, among others, form part of criteria for promotion consideration and succession planning for the SANDF at large,” the EFF Gauteng parliamentarian heard.