Mr L J Tolo (Cope) to ask the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans:
Whether (a) her department’s lack of skills retention and (b) the age and health of soldiers remain concerns which impact on operations, in particular with regard to the engineering corps; if not, in each case, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details in each case?
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans:
The Department of Defence and Military Veterans has previously indicated that skills retention and the age and health of soldiers remain concerns that do impact on operations. The skills retention issue will remain relevant due to the fact that the DOD is in competition for scarce skills with the private sector. These issues are constantly under review.
(a) Retention of Skills in the South African Army
In the case of the retention of skills in general in the SA Army, each application to exit the SA Army by means of a package is carefully scrutinised at the level of the Chief of the SA Army personally to ensure that the services of members with scarce skills are not lost. However should a member of the SA Army decide to resign from the SA Army, there is no formal method to prevent this. Recently the SA Army was allowed for the first time to pay Technical allowances to its members, which the Army believes, will help in retaining these skills.
(b) Age and Health of Soldiers
Age and health in the SA Army remains a concern for the simple reason that the National Defence Force does not have a mechanism in place that can be implemented to exit the members with accompanying benefits whilst outside of the National Defence Force. The members are therefore retained in the National Defence Force.