Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais maintains a “disconnect” between National Treasury and the Department of Defence (DoD) is adversely affecting funding for the national defence force.
“This,” he said following tabling of and discussion of the latest DoD annual report at the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) this week, “is and will further affect the ability of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to execute its constitutionally mandated tasks and others assigned it.”
“It is evident Treasury, the DoD and the Executive have different experiences and views of both the DoD and the SANDF and the best solutions in spite of interaction and obliged co-operation at different levels (this includes a joint Treasury/DoD task team).
“It appears the Executive has more information with less risk than what senior DoD management expressed,” he said, adding it was probably best summed up as being a case of the left hand not knowing where the right hand is, never mind what it is doing.
“This is part of the rot at root level in government and specifically, the DoD. All three parties involved are guilty of adding to the deterioration of the SANDF and its defence capabilities. This is a contravention of the Constitution,” he said.
Questions Marais posed to Treasury officials showed “although there is liaison with the DoD there are no department specific budget requirements. Treasury indicated they work on government guidelines applicable to all departments”. These, Marais said, are set by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) on government priorities for a specific term – “again, not defence specific”.
He is also scathing of the continued use of the Defence Review 2015 as the “mandate document for budgets and needs determinations”. Marais maintains it would be far better to work with Section 200 of the Constitution which makes provision the sovereignty of South Africa, including land, sea and air borders; assuring the safety of South Africans; protection of the various economies; play an active role in regional stability and be active in disaster and rescue operations.
“To achieve this we, as a country, do not require the expensive option of the 2015 Defence Review policy document. A scaled down and cheaper option will suffice but there appears to be no appetite for this,” he said adding his Parliamentary motion requesting a debate on “the decline in capacity and capabilities of the SANDF and defence readiness of the national defence force, now at critical levels” was more relevant than ever.