SA’s landward defence spend just about half what it should be


The full cost of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) landward defence programme is R33 billion, but only R16 billion has been budgeted towards it, with the massive shortfall impacting the SANDF’s ability to provide trained forces and maintain combat capabilities.

The total cost of landward defence, including the border protection tasking Operation Corona, is given as R33 081 828 000 by those charged with ensuring monies allocated to defence are properly disbursed. However, the amount actually budgeted stands at R16.464 billion for the 2019/20 financial year, according to the Department of Defence’s most recent Annual Performance Plan.

“The shortfall of R16 617 529 000 will impact on the current ability to provide trained forces and to renew and maintain combat operational capabilities within the Landward Defence Programme,” the Performance Plan stated.

The shortfall in funding is not new with SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, last month bemoaning the lack of financial support given to the South African military by National Treasury and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. He is not the first service chief to point out the effect the funding shortfall is having on the SA National Defence Force. It has gone as far as Defence and Military Veterans Minister NosiviweMapisa-Nqakula saying it could well be time for the country to debate and decide on what “sort of a defence force it wants”.

The allocated landward defence funds will go to, amongst others, providing an infantry capability, including a Reaction Force, for external deployment and for internal safety and security including border safeguarding; as well as exercising a tank and armoured car capability and providing a squadron for internal deployment; exercising a composite artillery capability and providing a battery for internal deployment and exercising an air defence artillery capability and providing a battery for internal deployment.

Provision is also made for engineer, signals and operational intelligence capabilities with support to front-line deployments included in the form of first and second line maintenance units and two field workshop units.

The funding also goes to general training which includes basic military training, junior leader training, common landward training, command and management training, force preparation exercises and training courses.

The annual performance plan does not give any detail as far as provision of mission-ready defence capabilities is concerned. This output is described as “percentage compliance with joint force employment requirements” and is listed as “information classified”.