Draft Defence Review report handed over to Sisulu

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Minister of Defence and Military Veterans has received a draft of a long-awaited defence review. Prepared by a committee, chaired by Roelf Meyer, the draft is now available for public comment at www.sadefencereview2012.org.

Sisulu says the event today marks the beginning of an intense public consultative phase to get further input, The Times reports. “The draft is open for comments and proposals and from now on, the committee will be engaging with the broader South African society to draw the best possible consensus on the future defence trajectory,” Sisulu said at a media conference in Pretoria this morning. “Participation of South Africans will be critical and key stakeholders, including the defence force, partners and communities will be consulted,” she said.

She said the committee was mandated to draft a policy which would be supportive of government priorities, a policy that would be responsive to the country’s developmental requirements. The Times adds that a previous review, adopted in 1998, was preoccupied with the integration of both the statutory and non-statutory armed forces following the negotiated transition of 1994.

Meyer, chairman of the independent review committee, said the current review took a new view of the role of the defence force under a new time period. “We are working from the point of establishing new goals for the national defence force, including tasks flowing from those goals,” he said.

The strategic goals set out in the draft report include safeguarding of South Africa and all citizens through securing borders and prioritising support for the police service. A number of consultative events have been lined up, starting with the committee’s meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on April 18.

The state BuaNews agency added Meyer said the 14-member committee is to hold a number of public consultations in June to familiarise communities with the report. This, he said, would be to establish the needs of South Africans.

Sisulu said that as the old report was no longer relevant to the current situation, a new policy responsive to the country’s developmental requirements was needed. She said the draft report will be presented to Parliament next week, where she hoped it would be approved.

At the time of the appointment of the committee, Sisulu said there was a need to review all legislation, programmes and policies in order to answer the important question of what the role of the SANDF was in a developing state facing a number of developmental challenges.

The 1998 Review further took a conservative approach to the deployment of the Defence Force in pursuit of regional security envisaging that South Africa would only contribute a single battalion to peace keeping operations.

Meyer explained that the committee, in the draft document, had identified five strategic defence goals – including the defence and protection of South Africa, the safeguarding of South Africa and its people, defence’s contribution to South Africa’s international agenda and promotion of regional and continental peace and stability, supporting civil authority in times of crisis and civil control over defence and accountable utilisation of defence resources.

The Committee met for the first time in July last year when the minister briefed them about their mandate.

It also comprises former Defence Force Minister Charles Nqakula, North West Premier Thandi Modise – who is the Deputy Chair, Tony Yengeni, Dr Moses Khanyile, Dr Phandelani Motoma, Dr Gulube, Nonkonzo Molai, Colonel G Seape, Nick Sendall, Helmoed Heitman, Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz, Ambassador Thenjiwe Mtintso and Godfrey Giles.