The defence budget is up. The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) document released this afternoon with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan’s annual budget speech shows R37 492 954 000 allocated for the year beginning April 1.
The budget for the year ending in March was R34 349 087 000. According to the ENE document (Vote 22, Defence and Military Veterans), the budget for FY2013/4 will be R39 944 660 000 and the allocation for FY2014/15 R42 332 109 000.
Whether this is enough to replenish empty bunkers remains to be seen, with long-running concerns that the current allocation is insufficient. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in October 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.
“In the short term, the department will focus on: reviewing the defence strategy, which will inform the departmental force design and force structure; the continued phased-in implementation of the border management strategy, which includes border safeguarding; the approval of the policy framework to form the basis for implementing the Defence Amendment Act (2010); defence’s contribution to the finalisation of the national security strategy component of the revised 1999 White Paper on the South African Defence Related Industries; and the development of a defence industry strategy to position the defence function in a way that maximises the responsiveness of the defence industry,” the ENE reads.
“Specific strategic priorities over the medium term include: executing the border safeguarding function, continuing with the institutionalisation of the new service dispensation for South African National Defence Force members, enhancing the Defence Force’s landward capabilities, ensuring optimal human and capital acquisition through approved defence industry projects, enhancing the Defence Force’s peacekeeping capability, revitalising the reserve component, and consolidating the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) maritime security strategy. This was recently ratified within the structures of the SADC and its subsidiary organs.”
The ENE adds that through the national youth service military skills development systems and the increased use of the reserves to supplement the regular members complement, the department will continue to enhance the one force, core force and growth force concept. This will ensure an appropriate balance between regular members, reserve members and other personnel appointed in terms of the Public Service Amendment Act (2007).
“The department further contributes to and supports the United Nations (UN) requirements for its peace missions and work in collaboration with the African Union (AU) in support of the SADC peace support initiatives, which will enable the organisation’s member states to react in time to conflicts or natural disasters. It also provides support in terms of the SADC’s standby force agreements.
“A key component of government policy is the promotion of regional, continental and global security through defence diplomacy initiatives, which include the employment of defence capabilities in support of the UN and AU peace missions within the African landscape. The defence force has provided substantial support to peace missions, natural and humanitarian disaster, and democratic elections through its inherent land, air, maritime and military health capabilities. The department has made substantial progress in building sound relations with countries in Africa and the rest of the world. Current deployments are mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and in maritime operations supporting regional security. Support has been provided to post-conflict reconstruction and training initiatives on the African continent.”