Defence and Military Veterans Minister’s budget address

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Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans presented her budget vote to the National Assembly on Wednesday, July 17. defenceWeb publishes it as a service to readers and subscribers.

“It is an honour to present the Defence Budget Vote 19 on this first sitting of the 6th Parliament following the recent National General Elections. I congratulate Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla on his return to this portfolio.

“I am confident together we will make a formidable team leading our Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans. I also extend a word of welcome to the newly established Portfolio Committee and its Honourable Chair, Cyril Xaba.

“It is with deep sadness that we report, and I hope that this House will mourn with us at Defence and within the ranks of the SANDF,  the passing of Military Veteran Ike Maphoto, one of our stalwarts and the veteran of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

“I welcome students from Siviwe Special School in Gugulethu present with us today in the gallery. This school has been adopted by the SA Navy.

“Ours is a vast portfolio, being the sole establishment with a Constitutional mandate for the defence of our country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. In presenting the 2019 Budget of the entire Defence portfolio, we hope we shall raise the confidence of the South African public.  Its support is sought to enable us to fully execute our mandate.

“Further, we are appearing before this house in the confines of a severely constrained national fiscus, which has had a devastating impact on the conduct of our business and the fulfilment of our obligations.

“Our presentation will give you a bird’s eye view into the defence portfolio and community of the military veterans, as well as what plans are in place and being executed to ensure the social well-being of military veterans, as well as the attendant challenges.

 

 

“This morning we recall that Section 85(1) and (2) of the Constitution vests the executive authority of the Republic in the President and which is exercised together with other Cabinet members. Section 92(1) of the Constitution holds us responsible for the powers and functions as may be assigned by the President, and in sub-section (2) the Constitution further holds us accountable to Parliament for the exercise of powers and the performance of functions.

“Further, Section 202(2) of the Constitution provides that command of the Defence Force must be exercised in accordance with the directions of the Cabinet member responsible for defence, under the (executive) authority of the President.

“It is thus pertinent to note that this Defence Budget Speech today is consistent with my Constitutional duty to provide strategic direction to the entire Defence Function. And it is their moral and legal obligation to execute my strategic direction in the year that lies ahead.

“It is vitally important to reflect on the fundamental contribution that Defence makes to the Sovereignty of the Republic of South Africa and the Authority of the State. I must remind the House of Section 227(1)(a) of the Interim Constitution (1993) which pronounces that one of the functions of the Defence Force is: “For service in the defence of the Republic, for the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“Consequently, we have developed a long-term strategic view focused on specific threats to the Sovereignty of South Africa and the Authority of the State that I must bring to your attention.

“South Africa’s borders are the physical manifestation of the country’s national sovereignty.

“South Africa seeks to build safer communities, fight corruption and promote integrity through inter alia protecting the country’s borders. We have continued our efforts to enhance the safeguarding of the land borders and airspace and preventing the flows of illicit goods and illegal immigration that compromise the RSA economy.

“The National Security Strategy requires that twenty-two (22) Army sub-units and the support thereto be deployed for border safeguarding, and I wish to restate that to date there has been insufficient funding to realise this.

“The challenge in the maritime environment is crime, illegal exploitation of maritime resources, piracy and the uncontrolled movement of people and goods at sea. With more than 90% of its international economic activity being reliant on maritime trade, the protection of these routes for commercial shipping is of vital national interest to the nation and an international responsibility.

 

 

“During his February 2019 SONA, the President indicated that we will continue to advance peace on the Continent and across the globe, taking forward Nelson Mandela’s vision of a peaceful, stable and just world.

“In these circumstances we strive towards sustaining long-range maritime and air patrols in the Mozambique Channel and to expand such patrols to the West Coast.

“South Africa seeks to promote greater peace, security and stability in the Region and elsewhere on the continent in the fulfilment of Madiba’s vision. The Defence Force makes a vital and unique contribution to these diplomatic efforts.

“Today, South Africa remains a significant contributor to peacekeeping operations on the Continent and we continue to have a significant presence in the DRC through MONUSCO and the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). Our Battalion within the FIB was commanded by a female, Lieutenant Colonel Tiisetso Sekgobela, who led our soldiers successfully through a number of battles. Additionally, Lieutenant Dimakatso Raisibe Maila served as the only female Platoon Commander in the FIB.

“The other soldier who merits honourable mention in Parliament is Lieutenant Colonel Stefan King for his display of remarkable courage under enemy fire, which earned him the United Nations Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage. His actions, and those of his crew in this high threat situation, is the hallmark of the valour and battle-skills that we strive for in our armed forces.

“We continue to conduct search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian operations across the homefront and in neighbouring countries when called upon.

“Of particular note has been our recent response to the regional disaster caused by cyclone IDAI as far afield as Mozambique and Malawi. Air assets and medical staff of the South African National Defence Force were deployed in a Disaster Relief Operation under Operation Chariot.

“The Chaplain-General, as the spiritual leader of the SANDF, facilitated a team of religious leaders to Mozambique to assess the damage, offer spiritual and moral support and determine the mobilisation of support through the South African Council Churches.

“Let me remind the House that the SANDF has carried out these interventions without reimbursement.

“The growing threat of terrorism and fundamentalism by extremist groups is looming large and is a clear and present danger on the Continent. South Africa is not immune to this threat, which has increased over the last few years with groups continuing to have the ability to destabilise multiple countries at the same time.

“Like terrorism, cyber threats dominate the international security agenda with States pursuing measures to secure their sovereignty and monitoring these trends on an ongoing basis.

“South Africa needs to adapt with the rapidly changing electronic environment through appropriate security measures.

“Organised and violent crime threaten and challenge the sovereignty, integrity and authority of the State, as well as the development and social cohesion of society in general. This cannot be allowed to persist.

“It is important for government to ensure that all South Africans are and feel safe at all times in their homes, streets and work places.

“The Commander-in-Chief has ordered the SANDF to deploy in co-operation with the SAPS in the Western Cape Province to combat crime and stabilise the security situation through intelligence-led operations. The ongoing intelligence assessment will determine the right time for the withdrawal of the SANDF.

“We welcome the commitment by the President to the establishment of a National Security Council as was announced in February 2019. This will ensure that we all make a significant contribution by coordinating and integrating our national responses to pertinent threats and emergent crises.

“Our Department will continue to support the broader economic and developmental initiatives of the 6th Administration.

“Defence will continue to strive to support the Defence Industry as a discrete sector of the economy, through meaningful participation in the President’s Public-Private Growth Initiative, which seeks to harness the potential of the private sector in contributing to renewal, investment and growth in the country.

“The resolving of uncertainty around Denel, and the impact thereof on smaller but critical industry players who hold sovereign technologies, continues to be an issue of huge importance for Defence.

“These smaller, but very strategic members of the industry supply chain are under extreme pressure in their efforts to survive. Many are poised to exit the defence industry if there is no immediate and urgent intervention. Furthermore, uncertainty in the industry has led to many skilled engineers being recruited by defence industry players outside of the Republic.

“As indicated in my speech in this House last year, we have launched the Defence Industry Charter.

“We have taken the deliberate decision to focus the Defence spend on capital projects domestically and continually seek ‘spin-off’ technology benefits from Defence to the mainstream economy of South Africa.

“To this end, we are also working with the Defence Industry to develop a Defence Industry Business Plan from 2019 – 2024. This Business Plan seeks to add jobs to the economy, grow export earnings and attract foreign direct investment.

“A critical intervention hereto must be increased administrative efficiency in the Arms Control System and the removal of cross-cutting inhibitors to doing business in all the economic sectors in South Africa.

“Using the expertise vested in Armscor, we are developing models to optimise industry value within a diminishing capital budget, with a particular emphasis on the development of win-win DOD expenditure plans to ensure the survival of high-risk / high-value members of industry.

“In Advancing Social Transformation, Youth, Education & Skills Development, the Department of Defence runs a number of Youth Programmes, such as the Young Falcons with a specific focus on inculcating patriotism and discipline, whilst also assisting other Departments with youth development initiatives.

“Furthermore, in recent times we have:

  • Intervened to stabilise the crisis at the Provincial Hospital in Mahikeng in the North West Province and rendered essential services through the deployment of health professionals.
  • Intervened to contain the raw sewerage spills into the Vaal River System through repairs of sewage infrastructure in the Vaal River Project.
  • Deployed engineers to assist the Ditsobotla Municipality in the North-West with regards to sewage system failure.
  • Built bridges in those rural areas where there is an absence of infra-structure in isolated communities.
  • Supported other institutions in fire-fighting, mountain and maritime search and rescue operations.

“Defence continues to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic growth. As example, in recent times we have:

  • Supported Operation Phakisa toward unlocking the ocean economy, in particular providing a secure environment for this accelerated economic growth initiative.
  • Expanded Project Koba-Tlala to pursue the defence decentralised procurement of goods and services at a local level to be a catalyst for SMMEs development and job creation.
  • Supported the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in protecting South Africa’s wildlife and marine resources.
  • Supported the National Parks Board in the protection of rhinos and other wildlife against criminal syndicates.
  • Contracted Damen Shipyards to build inshore patrol vessels and SA Shipyards in Durban to build a new hydrographic survey vessel in support of South Africa’s international obligation to Safety of Life at Sea.

“Over the last few years the Department of Defence has been forced to continuously adjust its plans downwards in response to the declining budget.

“The Defence Force is becoming progressively more unsustainable in terms of declining defence allocations and we have now reached the point where the Republic must decide on the kind of Defence Force it wants and what it can afford.

“I must regrettably inform you that this situation has not changed and has in fact become increasingly worse.

“We are being forced to adopt a short-term view with an increasingly constrained value proposition to South Africa and its people. Strategically, we are now becoming forced to transition from being mandate-driven to being funding-driven. Defence can only perform to the extent that it is resourced and funded.

“The significant reduction in the defence allocation has resulted in an ever-decreasing ability to execute ordered defence commitments.

“I must now ask the question whether or not the house is satisfied that the current resourcing of the Defence Force is consistent with the obligations placed on it by the Constitution?

“Last year I reported a 2018 MTEF baseline reduction of R18.2 bn. The Letter of Allocation for the 2020 MTEF further demands an additional R4.7 bn reduction, the majority of which lies in the Compensation of Employees (COE). This reduction will directly impact on the training, equipment, sustainment, core capabilities and operational output of the Defence Force.

 

 

“The above amounts to a nominal R22.9 bn reduction in defence allocation over a five-year period.

“I am at pains to inform you that the above reductions may be potentially compounded by an even greater envisaged baseline reduction scenario for Defence of 5% for 2020, 6% for 2021 and 7% for 2022. This may equate to an additional reduction of R9.6 bn from 2020 to 2022.

“The projected shortfalls in the COE have the following implications:

  • During the current Financial Year, a shortfall of R2.9 bn can possibly be funded from the operating budget.
  • Over the MTEF, if the scenarios are factored in, then the shortfall increases to R4bn, R4.5 bn and R5.5 bn respectively with no provisions in the operating budget to cover the shortfalls in the outer two years.

“Furthermore, this House should be very concerned that the funding for defence capital equipment is greatly reduced from 2021 onwards with dire consequences for the South African defence industry its supply-chain.

“Despite the guidelines I gave during my speech last year, the rate of decline has accelerated beyond our ability to control and absorb these ongoing cuts. As also previously reported, it is no longer ‘business as usual’.

“In terms of audit qualifications. I have instructed the Accounting Officer and Chief of the SANDF to monitor the action plans developed by Services and Divisions and to curb recurring findings. These will be monitored by myself on a continuous basis during my monthly interactions with the management of the Department.

“I am concerned about a matter involving a member related to the wearing of religious accoutrements together with official SANDF uniform.  Against this background, I have requested the Chief of the SANDF to find an amicable solution at the earliest possible time and report to me.

 

“The Reserve Force made an enormous contribution to the operational performance of the Defence Force during the last financial year by providing over 14 000 members for various tasks.

 

“In response to my directive in this House last year, we have developed a new Reserve Force Service System that is now ready for implementation. A decision has been taken to hold a Reserve Force Indaba in September 2019.

“After a lengthy consultation process, I have signed into effect the name-changes of the Reserve Force Units in the South African Army. These names now reflect a healthy balance of the South African military heritage.

“We are encouraged by the number of professionals and highly skilled persons in South Africa who volunteer to serve in the Reserve Force.

 

“I will continue to engage with the Reserve Force Council on their mandate and their support to the SANDF Reserves.

 

“The Department of Military Veterans has embarked on reviewing legislation and its efficacy in delivering effectively and efficiently to military veterans and their dependants. We have taken a decision to amend the Military Veterans Act to clarify the definition of a ‘Military Veteran’ and to introduce Regulations to address the ‘Means Test’.

“The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla will elaborate further.

“Armscor has worked tirelessly with other stakeholders to establish the Defence Sector Charter for those wanting to participate in an inclusive and transformed defence industry, including Military Veterans and the Youth. The Defence Industry Fund provides a financial solution to the challenges that most SMMEs face.

“The primary focus of Armscor remains the delivery of complex acquisition and research and development expertise to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), including test, evaluation and quality assurance.

“Armscor ensures that young people, especially those from rural areas, are capacitated with science, engineering and technology opportunities to succeed and be enabled to meet the global demands of the defence industry.

“Between Armscor and the industry, over 123 science and engineering university bursaries have been awarded to new students this year.

“The Castle Control Board manages the Castle of Good Hope as a heritage, tourism and public education centre.  I am proud to say that the Board has now truly managed to change the rigid image of the Castle as a symbol of armed colonial conquest and apartheid oppression into one of reconciliation, healing, learning and nation-building.  It now has truly taken the Castle to the people and brought the Castle to the people of the world!

“The five-year term of the first permanent Defence Force Service Commission has ended. We have appointed four new Commissioners with effect from 01 January 2019, who join the three serving Commissioners who were appointed with effect from 1 May 2015. I intend to appoint three additional Commissioners, cognisant of gender parity in the Commission.

“I have noted with appreciation the recommendations of the Commission; however fiscal constraints have made it difficult to implement some of these.