“Steady and commendable progress in implementation of key performance areas” was the response by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to a briefing this week by Secretary for Defence Dr Sam Gulube.
Performance by the Department of Defence for the first three months of 2015 was, according to committee chairman Malusi Motimele, an important stepping stone towards achieving annual departmental targets.
“While there was reported unaudited under expenditure of around R296 million, which translates to 21.8% of total quarter spending, the committee welcomed reasons pointed out as contributing factors. These included the outstanding advance payment to the SA Air Force for the upkeep of the C-130BZ aircraft and the delay in the implementation of projected annual salary increases for the 2015/16 financial year as from April 1, 2015. The committee is hopeful spending patterns will improve for the second quarter,” he said.
As far as securing South Africa’s borders was concerned, a task assigned to the SA National Defence Force and executed as Operation Corona, the committee said it was also “commendable”.
Statistics given showed 2 375kg of dagga confiscated, contraband valued at over R13 million seized and 2 755 undocumented immigrants apprehended.
“This good work points to a defence force committed to ensuring the safety and security of their country despite the challenge of shortage of adequate forces on our borders,” Motimele said.
Gulube is reported as telling the committee “our borders remain porous because we require 22 companies of soldiers to be deployed to ensure our borders are effectively protected. But due to a lack of finances, we can only deploy 13.
“The National Treasury and Auditor-General indicated if we set our target as 22 companies in our performance plan, then we are going to be continuously cited for underperforming. Therefore, we were advised we should set our target as 13.
“So, artificially our target remains 13, simply because I want to come here and say I’ve achieved my target of defending the border, knowing very well we don’t have the budget to deploy 22.”
SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo earlier this month indicated the landward arm of the SANDF was “working hard” to deploy an additional two companies for Operation Corona in the current financial year. This because no extra funding has been made available for extra border protection deployments notwithstanding Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula telling the National Assembly two more companies would do this duty in the 2015/16 financial cycle.
A worrying aspect for the committee is under-performance as regards payments to service providers within 30 days.
“This is a concern that threatens the livelihoods of many small, medium and micro enterprise businesses. It also negatively impacts the drive for job creation and the fight against the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he said.
The committee undertook to monitor the human resources development strategy of the DoD and SANDF as it felt this was not in line with the Defence Review.
Motimele also asked the DoD for a briefing on implementation of the Defence Review which is currently being dealt with by a Defence Review Project Implementation Team (DRIPT).