The ever-simmering war of words between the Department of Defence (DoD) and the country’s largest military trade union, Sandu (SA National Defence Union), has again shown signs of boiling over.
Head of Communications for the DoD, Siphiwe Dlamini, maintains in a statement the trade union “cannot claim to have forced the hand of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to provide rations where there was low level rations (sic) in units mentioned in a SANDF statement issued on November 30”.
Three infantry battalions – 2, 4 and 21 – were affected by a shortage of wet rations but this was timeously resolved, the SANDF’s Colonel Ronald Maseko said. This after Sandu had sent a lawyer’s letter to, among others, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, regarding the non-availability of food. The trade union indicated it was ready to approach the courts if food was not provided for soldiers.
When rations were delivered to the affected units Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff took to social media saying the issue had been brought into the public eye by the union and the subsequent publicity, generated by Sandu, had forced the SANDF into action.
According to a statement issued in his name, Dlamini said: “The SANDF wishes to state without contradiction that after the routine stockpile verification process was undertaken, it was then anticipated that the implemented change-over to the new procurement system would pose numerous challenges including the unfavourable impact envisaged on the delivery of critical resources such as wet rations.
“This resulted in the diligent planning for contingencies to counter the anticipated delays in the stockpiles of wet rations at various mess facilities. The ardent planning against the anticipated disruption culminated in the replenishment of the low level wet rations on Wednesday, November 30. Suffice to unequivocally state that the delivery of wet rations was not as a result of the alleged intervention by Sandu. This insinuation should be treated with the utmost contempt it deserves.
“Had Sandu applied due diligence and logic and not relied on creating shock tactics, then Sandu would have appreciated the timeframes, processes and procedures that are involved in procuring the required wet rations before making such contemptible, intentionally misleading and irresponsible comments.”
The temporary shortage of rations was, according to Maseko, due to suppliers either not registered or not properly registered on National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database (CSD).
The CSD was established in terms of National Treasury circular 3 of 2015/16 and officially launched by the then Minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene in East London on September 1, 2015. In terms of the circular accounting officers and accounting authorities “may not award any bid to a supplier not registered as a prospective supplier on the CSD” as from April 1, 2016.
That indicates the SANDF must have been dealing with CSD registered suppliers for at least the past seven months, a long time frame to meet what Dlamini termed “numerous challenges including an unfavourable impact on the delivery of critical resources such as wet rations”