Suggestion for future defence funding to be mandate, not budget, driven


A joint Department of Defence (DoD)/National Treasury (NT) task team paints a gloomy picture in terms of defence funding other than the allocation given by the Minister of Finance in the national budget.

The task team was called into being by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in an effort to provide more “off-budget” funding (as it were) to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

A key finding in the task team’s briefing to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCOD) is there is “limited scope for significant revenue generation by Defence”.

On the positive side the briefing notes “any revenue that can be generated should be available to offset current expenses” and that “various instances have been identified where ‘a commercial mindset’ could substantially benefit the Defence funding agenda”.

Force rationalisation is, according to the briefing, the largest opportunity to reduce annual expenditure in the State-owned and managed military machine, with a headcount of just under 90 000 across four services and including civilian personnel.

It also points out what Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said during her budget vote in Parliament earlier this year – decisions have to be taken on the defence funding conundrum. The Defence Review 2015 sees it being mandate driven while a future Defence Review, hypothetically set for 2020, sees funding for defence as a budget-driven factor.

The briefing notes in closing, under the heading “Way forward”: “Pragmatically, the DoD has entered an era of budget driven strategy as opposed to the mandate approach to defence planning”.

As far as short term survival, in the interests of sustainability, is concerned the recommendation is to “comply with budget reduction and allocation
ceilings in targeted areas. This can only be achieved through significant
reductions to defence programmes through cost cutting and savings

“Develop a new Defence Review 2020 to align ambition with available resources” the briefing states and points out “South Africa will have to agree to a significantly reduced level of defence ambition for the future and correspondingly reduce expectations for the defence function”.