A single sentence in the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report is the effective death knell of the Defence Review, first announced in 2012 by then Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
The Performance Information section of the report states: “Strategically, the funding allocation to the DoD effectively negates the SA Defence Review 2015 policy position and dramatically reduces the level of defence ambition that can be pursued”.
It continues, saying “the consequent reduction in operational output introduces significant risks to South Africa’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the ability to sustain enduring support to the developmental agenda of South Africa”.
Another attempt to salvage the Review, revamped somewhat and renamed the SA Defence Review 2015 by Sisulu’s successor, current minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, took place when President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is Commander-in Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) visited the Department of Defence in January this year. The visit was in line with Ramaphosa stating he would personally call on each government department.
According to the report a number of decisions were taken during the engagement with the President with “specific guidance given on the strategic focus for the defence function over the next few years”.
In response Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s department has further developed and refined the “Arrest the Decline” component of the Defence Review. This focuses on immediate challenges to current operational commitments that must be resolved in the short term.
According to the report the revamped “Arrest the Decline” plan addresses operational performance and includes interventions to assist the continued viability of the South African defence industry and defence related industries as being crucial to enablement of the defence function in future.
“Implementation of the SA Defence Review 2015 remains a work in progress and the DoD will continue to pursue this within resources allocated to it by the National Treasury.”