The National Treasury has again trimmed the defence budget. The adjusted defence budget vote released by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan shows the budget has been cut by R255.878 million, shrinking to R34 349 087 000 from the R34 604 965 000 allocated in February.
Despite the cut, an additional R81.437 million was allocated to the South African Defence Force “for the deployment of members to, in conjunction with the Mozambican Defence Force, counter piracy in the Mozambican Channel.” An additional R200 million was also allocated for “higher personnel remuneration increases than the main budget provided for…”
The cut in the budget comes despite long-running concerns that he current allocation is insufficient. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu earlier this month in reply to a parliamentary question said the inadequate budget was impacting on the SANDF’s battle fitness and readiness. “Naturally, and as a matter of life, any gap in resources will have some kind of impact on the activities one is engaged in. That applies to the department of defence and the SANDF.” The SANDF’s budget needed to be a matter of concern for all South Africans, she said.
“The matter has not been dealt [with] to the full satisfaction of the ministry and the department and we remain hopeful that the budget would be increased in the not-too-distant future,” she added. Sisulu has previously argued for a budget equivalent to 2% of GDP, which would roughly amount to an increase in her budget to R50 billion.
Treasury meanwhile says the performance of the Department of Defence is on track, although some projections may have been exceeded. “Although three large scale external operations were planned, only two were needed. Although not considered to be a large scale operation, one additional external operation was conducted in support of the Mozambique government to combat piracy in the Mozambique Channel. All four planned internal operations were conducted mainly in cooperation with the South African Police Service during the local government elections and border safeguarding. Border safeguarding continued through the deployment of seven sub-units in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State. Safety and security support was provided at various events, including search and rescue operations as well as disaster aid operations.”
“Total expenditure for 2010/11 was 100 per cent of the 2010/11 adjusted appropriation. Expenditure in the first six months of 2011/12 was R15.771 billion, or 45.9% of the adjusted appropriation of
R34.349 billion for the year as a whole. In comparison, mid-year expenditure in 2010/11 was
R14.263 billion, or 46.9% of the 2010/11 adjusted appropriation. Expenditure in the first six months
of 2011/12 increased by R1.508 billion or 10.6%, compared to expenditure in the first six months of
2010/11. The main expenditure increase compared to 2010/11 is due to the higher remuneration increases than the main budget provided for.”
The department also generated revenue of R62.685 million from selling equipment and spares procured through the Special and General Defence Account. This was surrendered to the National Revenue Fund and will be used for defence activities as follows:
Programme 3: Landward Defence: R22.609 million
Programme 4: Air Defence: R38.555 million
Programme 5: Maritime Defence R1.521 million
There was also a declared saving of R600 million in the Air Defence (SA Air Force) budget “due to delays in the strategic defence procurement programme.”