The South African National Defence (SANDF) will shed 3 000 members over the next three years in order to stay within its budget allocation, which is being consistently reduced. Approximately 69% of the R49 billion defence budget is swallowed by employee compensation.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, answering a written question by Economic Freedom Fighters’ Washington Tseko Isaac Mafanya, explained that, “in light of the reduced defence budget allocation and the conclusion that the Compensation of Employee (COE) allocation will be further reduced for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and also that relief to secure sufficient funding will not be forthcoming, the Department of Defence (DoD) was forced to implement HR cost-savings measures/interventions to reduce HR cost pressures.”
To reduce cost pressures, the Department of Defence aims to keep its personnel strength to 73 000 members over the current three-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). “The intent of the planned HR interventions is to reach equilibrium between the COE allocation received and required personnel to maintain an effective defence capability.”
Some personnel will leave the SANDF through a Mobility Exit Mechanism (MEM). The National Treasury has allocated R1 billion to fund the MEM during FY2022/23 and R800 million for FY2023/24. “This will translate in the planned exit of approximately 3 048 uniformed members through MEM over the indicated financial years,” Modise stated in her reply.
It was earlier reported that the SA Army will implement MEMs for 998 personnel across its formations and directorates. A long way behind the landward force, in number terms of personnel having to go, are the SA Air Force (SAAF), which has to trim its ranks by 218 people, with the SA Navy (SAN) going to be 159 less and the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) 156 lighter in people – and salary terms.
Other initiatives to reduce DoD human resources costs include reducing Reserve Force man-days from 2.6 million to 1.9 million; capping annual increases on operational and regimental allowances; de-activating all normal vacant posts for longer than five years; and conducting a Military Skills Development System (MSDS) intake every alternative year (the FY2022/23 planned intake is 1 997 members; the FY2024/25 intake 2 207 members and the 2025/26 intake will be 2 207 members).
Budget cuts are affecting all aspects of the SANDF, from personnel to operations. Modise alluded to this in her written reply, stating that, “even though the SANDF remains resolute in assuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic, supporting the people and executing missions in support of the national interest, the continual decrease in the COE allocation negatively impacts on the capability of the SANDF to deliver on its domestic, regional and continental responsibilities.”