Outspoken opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) MP David Maynier wants to see the Defence Review withdrawn from Parliament and revised to the point it is “affordable and implementable” before being re-submitted to the National Assembly.
Speaking after the defence budget vote earlier this week, he said the Defence Review, a 344 page document based on 436 stakeholder meetings and 75 public submissions that cost just on R11 million, had “enjoyed” less than an hour’s deliberation by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence before being rubber-stamped.
He said he was calling for the Review’s withdrawal because without it, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would fail.
“The Review must succeed so the SANDF can succeed,” he said calling for its revision in a six month period.
Maynier maintains incompetence, laziness, disinterest and not caring about the SANDF are the major reasons why the Review has been bogged down in Parliament for a year. He is also adamant the SANDF has become “a state within a state beyond effective oversight and scrutiny by Parliament”.
“We have never received a briefing on any operations conducted by the defence force. We have never received a briefing on the military preparedness of the defence force. We have never received a briefing on defence acquisition or the millions channelled through the Special Defence Account. We have stopped receiving replies to written Parliamentary questions on issues that matter,” he said adding he planned to put an end to this situation by submitting an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, to make Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accountable.
During her budget vote presentation the Minister indicated milestone one of the Review (it has four in total) would be achieved by the end of the 2014/19 financial cycle.
Achievement of all four would see the SANDF sufficiently equipped and skilled to execute operations across the full spectrum of conflict. Additionally the South African military machine would then have the capacity to defend and safeguard the country’s sovereignty, keep and enforce peace outside its borders and have an offensive capability to deter potential aggressors.
The minister has also criticised delays, saying in her budget speech this week that “the policy document was adopted by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 30 April 2015 and has been awaiting debate and approval by Parliament, a delay which has been costing us immensely as a Defence Force.
“The delay in the approval by Parliament of the Defence Review 2014 means that the financial year 2015/16 will be devoted to planning and implementation during the financial year 2016/17 and beyond. The DOD has however, firmly put structures and processes in place to reach a resourced Milestone 1 at the end of the current 2014-2019 MTSF.”
The minister noted that a Defence Review Overarching Implementation Framework, aligned with the National Planning, Budgeting and Reporting Cycle, has been approved. An oversight body, the Defence Review Implementation Project Team (DRIPT) consisting of both the Defence Secretariat and the Military Command has established to ensure departmental integration during planning and implementation.
The Defence Secretariat planning team has been tasked with developing a funding model to enable the resourced implementation of the Defence Review and a system to expedite defence capital acquisition, amongst others.