An irate Democratic Alliance (DA) MP maintains it’s time those in charge of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) “lock themselves in a room and not leave until a plan is agreed on to mitigate the ever-declining capability” of the military.
The words are those of shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais following a written response to a Parliamentary question posed to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Her response indicates prevention of further decline in SANDF capabilities “is entirely dependent on the budget allocation, which has been decreasing at an alarming rate with a negative impact on capabilities”.
Marais is of the opinion South Africa has no option but to accept the “dire position” the national economy finds itself in.
“At the same time we must make serious, but realistic, adjustments to the highest priorities in compliance with Section 200 of the Constitution. We must do more to protect our land, sea and air borders and less for non-essential capabilities,” he told defenceWeb.
Section 200 of the Constitution reads, in part, “The primary object of the defence force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force”.
Marais feels the time is right to pull the plug on the replacement infantry combat vehicle – the Badger – and utilise funds allocated to Project Hoefyster in areas such as maritime reconnaissance and patrol.
“This is an urgent requirement,” he said in regard to the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) sole maritime patrol capabilities currently residing in the more than 60-year-old C-47TPs of AFB Ysterplaat-based 36 Squadron.
Marais said the biggest challenge facing Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and her brains trust at the Department of Defence (DoD) and the SANDF was “inability and unwillingness to show any empathy with South Africa’s vulnerable sovereign safety and security”.
Elaborating on her reply to Marais, Mapisa-Nqakula wrote: “The Defence Review 2015 has been developed with a plan to arrest the decline of the SANDF but unfortunately no funding has been received to attend to the declining capabilities of the SANDF”.
The final part of her reply states: “The Defence Review 2015 is the defence policy document which has all the tenants (sic) of the requirements of the Defence Force. The defence (sic) has become progressively unsustainable in terms of declining defence allocations and reached a point where the Republic must decide on the kind of Defence Force it wants and can afford”.