SA Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane, maintains the cancellation of this year’s Navy Festival is not an indicator the event will not take place again in future.
“The non-hosting of the Navy Festival is not indefinite and the SA Navy will continue exploring viable options to circumvent budgetary constraints,” he said in a statement issued seven days after defenceWeb told readers there would not be a Navy Festival in 2018.
Among options he noted the possibility of the Festival being held every second year or any moving it away from fleet headquarters at Simon’s Town to other ports. He did not elaborate on whether this would be confined to ports where there is a permanent Navy presence, such as Durban and Saldanha Bay, or all South African ports.
Echoing what by now has become an oft-repeated utterance from chiefs of service as regards insufficient funding, Hlongwane said the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) “must work harder and smarter, doing more with less and, now more than ever, we need to challenge traditional constructs, employing innovation to propel our Navy into the future”.
For more than a decade the SA Navy Festival has been a window for naval enthusiasts and the public to see and experience the Navy. Speaking at last year’s Festival Hlongwane said: “Ever mindful of our socio-economic climate and the need to account to the people of this country we, each year, open our doors and hearts to the people of South Africa so they are able to see and experience their Navy first-hand”.
This week the Navy said it has become “increasingly difficult over recent years to host the Festival or participate in events such as Transnet National Ports Authority festivals and the Knysna Festival to mention just a few”.
“The organisation is beset with dwindling budget allocations yearly. It is presumed budget allocations will not increase in the foreseeable future,” Hlongwane said in a statement adding the maritime force was “confronted with an intricate conundrum of operating optimally with the current budget”.
This saw Naval Command decide not to host the festival in 2018 and limit participation in similar events.
“This will allow the SA Navy to commit its already depleted budget on the force’s core business to ensure the navy discharges its primary responsibility of defending and protecting the South African maritime zone while making sure our sea lines of communication are open and protected against any threat.”