At its August meeting, the Cabinet approved five bills, one of which is the long-awaited and revamped Military Discipline Bill.
The bill will now go to Parliament and then onto the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) before going onto the Statute Book.
An official government statement reads: “Cabinet approved the submission of the Military Discipline Bill of 2018 to Parliament. It addresses the administration of the military judicial system, creation and appointment of military police services and disciplinary hearings”.
The new bill, when enacted, will repeal the current Military Discipline Supplementary Measures Act, of 1999. This bill will align SA National Defence Force (SANDF) military discipline to the UN, important given South Africa’s involvement in peacekeeping and peace support missions run under the auspices of the world body, especially with soldiers deployed on peacekeeping. South Africa currently contributes troops and other military personnel to MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In its latest annual report for the 2016/17 financial year, the Department of Defence (DoD) reports of the new Military Discipline Bill that it “seeks to maintain and structure the SANDF as a disciplined force” in line with a Constitutionally enshrined mandate.
It is envisaged the new bill will provide for proper administration of the military justice system that achieves the constitutionally mandated call in “a manner that promotes equality, fairness, transparency and accountability” in the national defence force.
An indication of the long path the bill followed before it reached its current stage can be judged from it going to no less than 14 different government departments/organs of state for input. A specially appointed DoD task team also liaised with the State Security Agency for input as well as extensive consultation with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster Development Committee to “satisfy its socio-economic assessment requirements”.