15 Feb 2011
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu hosted a meeting of the National Defence Force Service Commission, the Defence Secretariat and the Military Command Council (MCC) to review progress in the implementation of the recommendation of the commission submitted to Parliament in November 2010.
The commission report covers a review of challenges in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) since 1994 to 2010.
The meeting attended by all military generals and senior managers from the defence secretariat reviewed progress and outlined plans to address all areas of concern identified in the final report of the commission chaired by Judge LO Bosielo.
The Acting Chief of the SANDF, Lt General Themba Matanzima, and his team of generals reported that the recommendation of the commission have been prioritised and fast tracked for implementation in the coming financial years. “As the Military Command we are attending to all recommendations of the commission, we have teams that are addressing all the matters. The commission report broadened our understanding of some of the issues, but many of the issues have been in our radar for sometime, and we are very pleased to work with the commission in addressing all the issues,” Lt General Matanzima said.
The Secretary for Defence, Ms Mpumi Mpofu, added that all necessary policies are being reviewed and new ones being drafted to ensure that there is smooth implementation of the recommendations.
“Since the appointment of the Minister in May 2009 the secretariat and the SANDF have been very busy addressing a number of the concerns identified in the final report, we are working with the commission to fast track all policy reviews and frameworks to ensure that all issues related to the condition of service of soldiers are addressed, a number of them are systemic problems and the new dispensation provides an opportunity for us to address them faster,” Mpumi Mpofu said.
The chair of the Commission, Judge Bosielo and the members welcomed the efforts and commitment of the Military Command and the Secretariat to address the conditions of service of the soldiers and their families.
“As the commission we are very pleased that the minister, the SANDF and the secretariat have prioritised the implementation of our recommendations, we have seen a very positive united team that has only the interest of the soldiers, a new dawn has arrived for our soldiers, when the condition of our soldiers improve so would be their dignity and standing in the society,” Judge Bosielo said.
The meeting noted with serious concern the loud hailing and misrepresentation of the recommendation of the Commission by Mr David Maynier of the Democratic Alliance. The meeting regretted that a member of parliament can use such an important institution in the security of the country as the SANDF to attract media attention and to profile himself for a better position in his party. “Through his utterances and insults to the SANDF it is becoming clear that Mr Maynier has no respect for the leadership of the Department of Defence and the Minister. Parliament is not a platform to create media celebrities but to deal with laws on behalf of our people.
“Sadly Mr Maynier misrepresent important sensitive information about the SANDF to attract media attention, we wish his contribution can be truthful and beneficial to our soldiers, that’s what our people expect from their representatives,” the meeting concluded.
At the end of the meeting it was agreed that progress has been achieved since the appointment of the minister and the report has given broader understanding of the problems and the following progress has been recorded:
Relationship between the Military Command and the Defence Secretariat:
The relationship has improved and there is now clarification on responsibility of the Chief of the SANDF and the Secretariat. The leadership also meet regularly to ensure cooperation and coordination and officials at all levels are working together very well. The meeting agreed that this is no longer a matter of concern. This was a matter of concern during Minister Terror Lekota leadership.
Disempowerment of officers commanding:
It was agreed that the Military Command Council is reviewing the powers of officers commanding and ensuring that they powers to discipline and manage their units effectively. It was also noted that SANDU and other irresponsible unions are also a serious problem as they do not respect officers commanding and their national leadership encourages lawlessness and chaos. The meeting urged the Minister to finalise the process to remove Unions from the SANDF as they remain a security risk. The minister reported that the legal team has finalised a review of what is the best route to remove unions from the SANDF and action would be taken. This issue was identified as a priority to be concluded this year.
Defence budget allocation and composition:
The meeting noted progress made in ensuring that the Department of Defence (DOD) receive a clean audit, and noted that in the 2009/10 financial year the DOD received only one technical qualification. The Commission called on the Minister and Parliament to allocate two percent of the GDP to the Department of Defence.
The meeting also noted the increasing number of deployment the SANDF is involved in from border patrol, peace keeping, rescue and disaster assistance and other domestic commitments.
Need for a new defence review:
The progress of the development of the Defence Strategy and Review is on and Parliament would be briefed as soon as possible.
The state of defence infrastructure:
The meeting noted commitment from the Minister of Public Works, Ms Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, to address accommodation and infrastructure challenges in the SANDF. It was noted that the SANDF public works regiment is currently involved in fifteen projects and more soldiers are currently being trained to increase its capacity. The meeting agreed that the Minister Sisulu will finalise all the necessary approvals to ensure that the SANDF is delegated all responsibility to maintain their buildings and manage its assets.
Professional health support:
It was noted that the Acting Chief of the SANDF has prioritised this area, and renovation work is ongoing at one military hospitals and other military health centres. The new technology and health machines are being purchased.
Funds have been allocated for different services to purchase new transport vehicles for troops.
A total review of the DOD career management is taking place and will be completed and consulted with all stakeholders.
The Military Skills Development System:
It was noted that the MSDS is a premier skills development programme of the SANDF. It helps to rejuvenate the SANDF by bringing new blood but a number of young people also do not get to join the SANDF. The DOD will strengthen partnership with the private sector and other sectors to ensure that young people find jobs if they are not enrolled with the SANDF. The meeting noted that the Military Command Council is reviewing the MSDS programme with the intention to improve it for better.
It was reported that the new grievance mechanism policy is making progress in addressing the more than 10 000 back log left by Minister Lekota and fast tracking some of the complains. The SANDF committed to addressing all grievances. The Cabinet approved Military Ombuds Bill will also assist in addressing grievances and bringing them into conclusion.
At the conclusion of the meeting it was noted that the SANDF new Dispensation as approved by the President in 2010 and the permanent Defence Force Service Commission will go a long way in addressing the systemic challenges within the SANDF.
The meeting with the National Defence Force Service Commission was preceded by the first part of the annual Ministerial Work session which reviews the implementation of the Ministerial priorities. The Ministerial work session started on Friday, 5 February to Sunday, 7 February and the session with the Commission on 8 February.
During the ministerial work session the minister received progress reports in the implementation of all ministerial priorities identified in the 2009 and 2010 budget speech and plans to fast track the implementation of all priorities.
“I am more than convinced that as a team defence we are moving to greater heights, we have now laid the foundation to fast track the implementation of all our priorities, we have achieved most of what we set out to do in the 2009 and 2010 budget speech, I can confirm to all South Africans that their Defence Force is in good hands and our soldiers must know that we are here for them at all times,” she concluded.
The minister also called on the Military Command Council (MCC) to ensure that soldiers look after their assets and infrastructure and also communicate the massage that discipline is not negotiable. Those who do not want to follow strict discipline must leave the SANDF.
Cell: 083 645 7838
E-mail: [email protected]
Issued by: Department of Defence
15 Feb 2011