The work done to date by Roelf Meyer and members of his Defence Review Committee (DRC) remains one in progress with more consultation to be done.
The DRC, appointed by previous Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in 2011, met with the Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), President Jacob Zuma, to discuss issues around the more than 400 page document that will shape the country’s military for at least the next 30 years.
Speaking after the meeting in Pretoria this week DRC media liaison officer Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen said the document as it currently stands was presented to the President.
“As Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces he gave some guidelines that still need to be addressed. He gave the DRC until the end of September to provide him with feedback.
“This development means the DRC will again have to engage with some roleplayers in the wider defence and military sphere to address the Presidential needs.”
When it was constituted by Sisulu she indicated she wanted the draft Defence Review tabled in Parliament last October. Prior to this Meyer and his co-committee members engaged widely across the country meeting with citizens at community and town halls as well as engaging with defence specific institutions and organisations, including the SANDF and the local defence industry. Think tanks and universities were also included in the public engagements to spread the net as widely as possible in agreement with Sisulu’s statement that she wanted a Defence Review that reflected the views of all South Africans.
Ten months after it started work the DRC presented Sisulu with a draft consultative Defence Review, which was then again circulated for comment and debated at any number of forums. All comments were included in revised version.
During this time Sisulu was replaced by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and although it appeared the Review’s progress had been halted it was still moving though slowly through various Parliamentary channels. The last of these was a presentation to Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention, Safety and Security Cluster on April 25.
Since then there was speculation the Review document would be tabled in Parliament before the end of last month. That did not happen and a statement issued by Parliament that it will be tabled before the dissolution of the Fourth Parliament of the Republic of South Africa is presently the only indication of its future path.
With Parliament set to be dissolved probably at the end of the first quarter of next month ahead of national elections the window is fairly wide.
Theunissen would not be drawn on this saying “It still has to be decided what the next steps will be in finalising the Defence Review process”.