The Freedom Front Plus and the South African National Defence Union (SANDU) are questioning a circular letter addressed to all infantry units asking for cash donations for a departure gift for the recently promoted Lieutenant General Michael Nkadinde.
Nkabinde is now SA National Defence Force Chief of Human Resources. He was previously the General Officer Commanding the SA Army Infantry Formation.
FF+ defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald says the circular letter, addressed to all 44 infantry units, both regular and reserve, states that the gift has been discussed with Nkabinde and that he preferred a cash contribution. An account number is provided and units are requested to contribute a minimum of R1 000 per unit. “It is unacceptable that such requests are addressed to units as units are placed under pressure and it boils down to the intimidation of units,” Groenewald says in a statement.
“The funds are usually paid from the [Regimental Fund]. Soldiers contribute on a monthly basis toward this fund and are supposed to be used to [improve] facilities for soldiers. The principle is wrong and the Infantry Headquarters could have given a smaller gift such as a shield or a book.
Soldiers now have to pay up for a gift of cash. This practice of giving cash for departure gifts should be stopped immediately. It opens the door for corruption, units are intimidated and troops are being exploited,” Groenewald added.
SANDU added regimental funds are contributed to by the ordinary members of the SANDF from “their hard earned salaries and is intended for their sole benefit. These funds are definitely not intended to bankroll or benefit higher command or to be plundered for the purposes of farewell presents. Nor are these funds open to pressure from the top as to its allocation for personal benefit of high ranking individuals.”
The union says Nkabinde received R20 000, bankrolled by various regimental funds, at a farewell function in Oudsthoorn on October 28. “In addition he received a hunting rifle as present which was shot in by military personnel in working hours and on the shooting range of the SA Infantry School on the same day. The fact is that the Defence Act Regulations pertaining to Regimental Funds in the SANDF clearly require that any action by a fund is to be taken upon resolution of the members of that particular fund and that the purpose of such funds is for the benefit of its contributors.”