The two most senior civilians in the Department of Defence – Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and secretary for defence Dr Sam Gulube – both make mention of the South African military’s commitment to government’s National Development Plan in the form of Project Koba-Tlala in the department’s latest performance plan.
The project, under the leadership of SA Army Reserves Chief, Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, has multiple objectives including boosting rural development via food production for military bases and setting up co-operatives to ensure better employment for Reserve Force members when not called up.
According to the Ministerial foreword in the 2018 DoD Annual Performance Plan: “Departmental programmes, including Koba-Tlala, aim to assist with the development of vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities’ contribution toward food security in South Africa, the department will ensure the National Development Plan is supported through the resourced execution of the DoD mandate”.
In his introduction Gulube points out that Koba-Tlala will continue to be rolled out in 2018.
“The project, a DoD rural development programme, is designed to contribute to a vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural economy in support of ensuring food security in South Africa.
“The roll-out will enable the agricultural and agri-processing value chain through the use of the military footprint in rural and semi-rural areas to give effect to decentralised procurement by embedding military units in rural local economies.”
He also highlights three other areas where the project will contribute to the National Development Plan. These are the creation of co-operatives involving commercial, small-scale and emerging farmers from which the DoD can procure agricultural products as well as other goods and services and the reskilling of “predominantly unemployed Reserves” in a variety of skills to be utilised in local communities.