Army, budget Sisulu’s main challenges


Revitalising the landward forces and increasing the budget of the South African National Defence Force are the two main challenges for defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu this coming year. “These remain the critical drivers of the priorities that we have identified for this current financial year,” she said in her budget vote this afternoon.

“The budget of the Department of Defence has to change and reflect the Constitutional requirements that we have. To bemoan the inadequacies of the budget is to repeat what each one here understands is a matter we should all seek to address as a matter of urgency. In this current period of turmoil in North Africa and the Cote d’Ivoire, we are called upon to ensure we have our defence in place in a constant state of readiness for any eventuality.
“In the short term we have had to reprioritise, and use the virement tool to scrape through, at great cost to our programmes and development. The priorities we outline now will require a significantly increased budget and we ask you to consider this in your submission of our budget.”

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan in February awarded Sisulu R34.604 billion for the state financial year that began this month. This increases to R37.371 billion in next year and to R39.702 in April 2013. Sisulu said ahead of Gordhan’s budget address that her department needed about R39 billion to make ends meet.

The R34.604 billion budget is up from the R30.7 billion allocated last February for the year that ends next month. The amount was reduced in October to R30.4 billion, however. “Our budget is woeful,” Sisulu said in February, adding that she did not want to say that too often, as it “does not endear us to Treasury.”

The Interim National Defence Force Service Commission (INDFSC) has repeatedly suggested defence spending be increased to 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or some R53.997 billion based on 2010 figures “in accordance with international norms”. Last year’s Human Development statistical tables in the United Nations Human Development Report showed the global average for defence spending was 1.94% of GDP or about 3.75 cents of every rand government spends. The average for the medium human development countries – including South Africa – that have listed military expenditure was 1.78% in 2008.