Defence Update on Cabinet agenda

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Defence Update (DU) 2025 is on Cabinet’s agenda, the Department of Defence has told Parliament.
 
The department, in a written response to a question by Democratic Alliance defence spokesmen Rafeek Shah, says the “DU is on the agenda of Cabinet and when deliberations on the matter are finalized, it will go to Parliament for further processing.”
 
The answer adds that the matter will then be discussed by Parliament`s defence committees and that public hearings will be held.
 
The Defence Update reviews South Africa`s defence policy as articulated in a 1996 Defence White Paper (DWP) and in the 1998 Defence Review (DR) that led to the R47 billion Strategic Defence Package that saw the country buy 50 fighter aircraft, 30 helicopters, four frigates and three submarines.
 
The DWP and DR saw the main role of the SA National Defence Force as defence against aggression. It only contemplated a limited SA exposure to peacekeeping.
 
The latter has, however, since 2001 been the main preoccupation of the military. With the policy unchanged, though outdated, the SANDF has not been able to either budget or equip to meet its actual daily task.      
 
It is expected the DU will address this issue as it was raised during public hearings in October 2004, the last time defence policy was widely debated. Neither the completed DU nor its drafts are in the public domain and the defence department`s annual report only makes passing reference to the DU`s content.
 
The department added in its reply to Shah that “careful consideration has been given to comprehensively address the issues raised by the Portfolio Committee on Defence on 17 August 2004 and by Civil Society during the Public Hearings that took place on 25 October 2004.”
 
It also notes that the Portfolio Committee on Defence on 2 November 2004 “expressed its satisfaction with the consultative process to establish the key issues to be addressed.”
 
Analysts and SANDF insiders expect the DU to be held over until after next year`s election, now expected in late March. By then the 2004 input will be five years old.     
 
(Picture: The Presidency, West Wing, Union Buildings. Leon Engelbrecht)