Legal advice and litigation support for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is going to be “adversely affected” due to a lack of funds.
According to the Department of Defence annual performance plan for the current year the budget allocation for legal services is more than R47 million less than the requested – and approved – amount of R297 841 000. This includes R56 million plus for the Military Ombud office, headed by retired lieutenant general Temba Matanzima.
The performance plan has it that both the human resource component and operating means required for the administration of military justice “will be severely impaired and will result in increases in backlog cases and cases of fraud and corruption”.
“This will result in a military discipline system or structure unable to support the Constitutional imperative of ‘managing the defence force as a disciplined military force’.”
Additionally SANDF Legal Services will not be in a position to properly support internal and external deployments. This, the report maintains, will affect combat readiness “of deployable or deployed SANDF forces and military legal practitioners” when it comes to complying with rules and regulations of domestic and international bodies.
With the elimination of fraud and corruption one of SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke’s stated objectives, it is worrying the performance plan notes the budget reduction in the 2018/19 financial year for Defence Legal Services meant amending the performance indicator target for “percentage of cases for corruption and fraud prosecuted” from 40% down to 25%. The backlog of military court cases outstanding was also cut from 60% to 40%. In both instances no actual numbers of cases is given.
In January this year the SANDF made public its directorate anti-corruption and anti-fraud (DACAF) saying it was a nodal point in the Department of Defence (DoD) to ensure evidence of corruption and fraud is handed to the SANDF Military Police Division for further investigation. 2017 saw the finalisation of 44 corruption and fraud cases in the DoD/SANDF. Three of these were brought to DACAF’s attention by the national anti-corruption hotline with the remaining 41 reported on the DoD’s own anti-corruption hotline.