A 15 word sentence in the statement on this week’s Cabinet meeting will boost the country’s entire defence community.
The sentence reads: “Cabinet approved the South African Defence Review 2014 and directed that it be tabled in Parliament”.
It marks the end of mammoth task started in July 2011 by then Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu when she appointed Roelf Meyer as chairman of the Defence Review Committee with a wide brief on South Africa’s long term defence policy. Among tasks she specifically wanted the committee and its resource group to investigate and report on were a new defence policy, supportive of government’s priorities and strategic intent and a reviewed and confirmed defence mandate with associated functions, high level tasks, strategic concepts, doctrine, capabilities, level of effort and structure.
Another area Sisulu asked the Meyer team to investigate was “defence’s contribution to South Africa’s international policy, strategy and obligations”.
These and another at least nine objectives saw widespread consultation across with country with senior SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel, the defence industry, think tanks and universities as well as civil society by way of open meetings in all nine provinces.
All this input were then refined into more than 400 pages of documentation which was subsequently again refined following requests for further investigation and clarification by Sisulu’s successor, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma.
This effectively saw the deadline of October 2012 set by Sisulu for the document to be tabled in Parliament scrapped. The decision approving it taken this week by Cabinet means it will be up for debate sometime after the May national and provincial elections when the fifth Parliament gets down to work.
The final item on the Cabinet statement is another with implications for both the SANDF and the defence industry.
Outgoing SA Navy chief, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, has been named as chairman of Armscor’s board of directors. This indicates he will replace current chairman retired Lieutenant General Mojo Motau, who took Mapisa-Nqakula to court to fight his dismissal last year. He and his deputy Refiloe Mokoena, who was also dismissed by the Minister, found themselves in the Constitutional Court earlier this year after an appeal against their reinstatement was lodged by Mapisa-Nqakula. Judgement in the case, according to the Constitutional Court website, has been reserved.
The statement also lists eight new non-executive members of the state security procurement agency. They are Thuthukile Skweyiya, Dr Moses Khanyile, Bethuel Mobu, Sesi Baloyi, Mpumi Zikalala, Ndumiso Tyibilika, Raymond Vokwana and Virginia de la Hunt.
No commencement date for them to replace the existing Armscor board is given in the Cabinet statement.