Cabinet cuts MSDS numbers

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Cabinet has decided to reduce the allocation of funds in the defence budget for the military skills development system (MSD) as a cost saving measure. It is not clear when the decision was made.

The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE, Vote 22, Defence and Military Veterans) document released with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan’s annual budget speech last week shows MSDS numbers are being reduced to 6673 in the coming year, starting April 1, to 4159 in 2013/14 and 4153 in 2014/15. The originally planned number was 11 140.

Speaking about the system, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans in March 2010 said the MSDS was “injecting new young blood into the SANDF, and also addressing the national skills shortage and the creation of jobs for young people.” The MSDS system that year mustered some 10 000 youths – roughly half in their first year and the remainder in their second – and cost about R1.45 billion.

The MSDS has been in place since 2003.

The ENE also shows the Department of Defence is generally understaffed. The department had an establishment of 87 230 posts, 79 353 of which only were funded. The number of filled posts were 78 902 in 2011/12. The ENE says the department will also be reducing the number of Public Service Act personnel “due to funding restrictions, which requires the focus of recruitment on replacements only.”