Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula wants young South Africans to join the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) but acknowledges budgetary constraints will limit the numbers that can be accommodated.
She told a weekend Youth Day gathering at Riviersonderend in Western Cape the SANDF plans to rejuvenate itself by recruiting young people from different backgrounds into its ranks.
“We particularly need educated and skilled young South Africans to serve in a modern and technologically advanced defence force. While there are exciting career opportunities in the SANDF, I must stress that due to acute budgetary constraints there is a limit to the numbers the force can recruit. Indeed, government as a whole can only employ a small percentage of the workforce,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula told those present her department was “at an early stage of conceptualising a National Youth Service”.
Its focus will be on entrepreneurial skills development with young people either remaining in the SANDF on completion of training or moving to other government departments, mainly in the security cluster, or going out into the private sector.
Other areas where the SANDF encourages young people to follow military careers is through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) and the University Reserve Training Programme (URTP).
While the core responsibility of the SANDF was to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and people of South Africa its role extended further.
“It has an inherent capability to contribute to the nation’s economic development and to the upliftment of communities such as yours. We are currently looking at the enhancement of the force’s ability to stimulate local economic growth through various interventions and to assist communities in distress,” she said.
Another area where the SANDF is involved in improving the lot of young South Africans is via the National Rural Youth Service Corps (Narysec). Run in conjunction with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform this skills development programme has at its core non-military character building training.
Last month another 1 000 young people graduated after doing training at 3 SA Infantry Battalion in Kimberley. Similar courses have been presented at the SA Army’s De Brug training area outside Bloemfontein and at SAS Saldanha on the Cape west coast.
The main aim of Narysec is to recruit and develop local youth aged 18 to 23, in conjunction with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, as paraprofessionals who will, after full training, provide community service in their own communities.
This, the Department of Defence said, is a government effort to curb migration to urban areas, escalating levels of service delivery protest actions and high levels of unemployment prevalent among the youth and people in rural areas. “This community service was initiated to reskill citizens and provides another opportunity for economic participation through maintenance of existing infrastructure”.