2015 Defence Review action plan envisaged by October

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Nine years since the most recent SA Defence Review saw the light of day, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise wants, as “a foremost priority”, to conclude evaluating it and “formulate an actionable plan”.

These are her words in the foreword to the 2024 Department of Defence (DoD) annual performance plan (APP) for the current year. She envisages the “actionable plan” to be ready for consultation with “the National Executive” by the end of October this year.

The 2012 Defence Review was the brainchild of then Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, but when Sisulu left her portfolio in 2012, it took her successor Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula another three years for it to see the light of day, and it was renamed the 2015 Defence Review. It was, however, approved without an accompanying funding model, meaning its objectives have been all but impossible to reach.

The APP was tabled at last week’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) meeting. The Minister, via her foreword, listed a number of priorities. These include four desired “end states” of future defence; organisational renewal; efficiency, effectiveness and economy; and Armscor and the South African defence industry (SADI).

Future defence, the first end state, according to her foreword, goes about a revised level of defence ambition and a Cabinet approved revised defence strategic trajectory, sustainably funded from the “national fiscus” over multiple medium term strategic framework periods. This will be “implemented pragmatically in the strategic management processes of the department [of Defence]”.

End state two would see a “DoD business case report” consulted on and signed off between the ministers of Public Service and Administration and Defence and Military Veterans.

On end state three – the three Es of Efficiency, Effectiveness and Economy – Modise writes her department is on “a deliberate and clear trajectory to comply with budget and allocation ceilings as set by government”.

Her deliberate and clear trajectory also comes into play for Armscor, the State-owned defence and security acquisition and project management company in her portfolio, and the South African Defence Industry (SADI). The trajectory she sets out is “to retain a domestic industrial and technology base”.

Maintenance of main operating systems and prime mission equipment as well as support for national cyber resilience and leveraging defence capabilities in support of the national developmental agenda are, according to Modise “crucial aspects of our commitment to socio-economic upliftment and safeguarding South Africa’s security and sovereignty”.

In closing she notes the strategic priorities “underscore our dedication to ensuring the defence of our nation while upholding accountability, transparency and efficiency in our operations. Together, we will navigate the challenges ahead and strive towards a safer and more prosperous South Africa”.