Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula today told Parliament defence should be a mandate driven department and not one that is budget driven.
Speaking during her budget vote she said: “The persistent and continued dramatic downward trend in real terms of the funding allocation to defence has reached a point where the Department of Defence (DoD) runs the risk of losing more of its essential capabilities, in addition to those already lost”.
“Members will also recall that last year I reported ‘We are endeavouring to develop a common DoD and National Treasury budget proposal, endorsed by both Ministries that will inform our engagement of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget (MINCOMBUD) and the development of the 2018 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) Mandate Paper’.
“We have had ongoing engagements with the National Treasury and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) over the last year, and we look forward to the DoD and the National Treasury jointly briefing the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on the funding of the implementation of the Defence Review.
“I must now report to the House that, despite these efforts, the defence allocation has not improved.
“Specifically, the critical requirement to raise the Defence baseline during the MTEF by R18,2 billion to implement the Defence Review has not been realised.
“In this year alone, we have a reduction of R5,8 billion and specifically a R3,2 billion shortfall in compensation of employees allocation. The reduction translates to an R18 billion reduction over the MTEF.
“This poses serious constraints to Defence and the Plan to Arrest the Defence Decline remains unfunded.”
She went on to say “not only is the defence force expected to defend and protect South Africa, it is expected to rapidly intervene during crises on the continent. It must sustain peace support operations and continuously secure the land borders, the full maritime zone and the airspace. We also expect the defence force to be a key role player in the cyber-defence of South Africa and to support other departments, when required. We further expect our defence force to execute our many international obligations.”
This, the Minister said, was a level of ambition not sustainable at current levels of funding.
“South Africa has now reached the point where it must make a decision on the kind of Defence Force it wants and what it can afford.”