Defence Review appears to still be marking time in Parliament

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The months of travelling the length and breadth of South Africa actively seeking public input on the Defence Review in 2012 was apparently not considered sufficient by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence.

This saw the committee again request public input via advertisements placed in 12 publications to which six written responses were received by the closing date. Public hearings were held last Friday.

The slow progress of the Defence Review, originally set to be tabled in Parliament in 2012 and last year renamed the 2014 Defence Review, is a source of worry to the wider South African defence community.

Committee chairman, Malusi Motimele, exclusively told defenceWeb the Defence Review was “an important document for the revitalisation of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF)”.

He pointed out three areas where the more than 400 page document, compiled by the Defence Review Committee under the chairmanship of Roelf Meyer, was important.
“Firstly, ensuring the adequate capacitation of South Africa’s armed forces – a necessity in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country. Secondly, the review seeks to ensure that South Africa’s armed forces deliver on commitments made in contributing to peacekeeping forces under the auspices of the African Union and United Nations.
“Lastly and most importantly, adequate capacitation of the SANDF will ensure a conducive environment for the implementation of the National Development Plan necessary for ensuring a better life for all South Africans,” he said.

The round of public input called for last month saw advertisements placed in primarily print media ranging from national to regional newspapers with an emphasis on reaching all 11 official languages, Malatswa Molepo of Parliamentary Communication Services said.

The publications that carried the advertisement were Sunday Times, City Press, Rapport, Die Burger, Mmaiseng News, Rainbow News Rise and Shine, Isibani News, Coal City, Thembisile News, Ngoho News, Nthavela News and Maselonyane.

Written responses were received from the Defence Force Service Commission, North West province Umkhonto we Sizwe, Drs Juliet Colman and Sharon Groenmeyer, the CSIR, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Didiza Productions.

The Portfolio committee had not, at the time of publication, made any information available or released a statement, about its scheduled seven hour meeting on Friday.

On Wednesday last week Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, told a Justice, Peace and Security Cabinet Cluster briefing implementation of the Defence Review would begin in “earnest” once Parliamentary processes are complete.

During the Armed Forces Day celebrations on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma said “The implementation of the Review will give our defence force the resources to fulfil the mandate domestically and beyond our shores.”