Let’s not waste a good crisis”: Sisulu


Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the impact the present economic situation facing South Africa and the world is daunting but also presents opportunity.

She says the crisis has impacted negatively on government planning.

“However, I have learnt a few apt phrases from this economic situation and the one that strikes a cord with me is ‘let`s not waste a good crisis`. Let`s use it to think creatively about how we can turn it into an opportunity. For us as the Department of Defence, it offers an opportunity to position ourselves to offer essential skills that will grow the economy,” she says.

“The Defence Force is one of the best multi-disciplinary training grounds you can find anywhere in the country. It is home to cutting-edge technology and research, be it in medicine, engineering and hydro, space and meteorological research.

“In a country bedevilled by skill-shortage, it presents itself as one avenue that the nation can tap into. It is an equal opportunity provider to those who wish to advance themselves.

“It can provide all forms of skills imaginable. The programme of training and skills transfer that the Defence Force can provide might prove to be the answer as we search for the formula of what makes for an efficient and capable state.

“In rethinking our role in the economy, we would like to provide training for essential skills in the economy. We believe we can play a pivotal role in providing the bulk of this.

“In any country, the Defence Force is an equal opportunity institution, where young people are given skills. We want to inject that into our society, because we have huge skills training capabilities and have tested this through our Military Skills Training Programme.We want to extend this to cater for various industries and government departments.

“The Military Skills System aims to provide the SANDF with the military human resources required by the Defence mandate to empower the youth through training and development opportunities whilst serving in the Military Skills Development System and to instill sound ethics and values of civic responsibility.

“It can form the Department`s primary contribution to invest in the youth and to alleviate unemployment and poverty by preparing them for decent and rewarding careers.A positive outcome of the Military Skills Development System is that while the SANDF provides the skills, it takes the unemployed youth and provides them with discipline, with civic education, with character development, with purposefulness and infuses them with patriotism.

“We wish to sell this concept of opening up our skills development for government departments and the private sector.A very good example of the skills that we have been able to provide over the years is the pilot training. SAA [South African Airways] has one of the highest standards of aviation safety in the world. We would like to claim that this is in no small measure because the bulk of the pilots they have, were trained by the Defence Force.

“This type of training allows us to provide continuous service. The list of possibilities is endless for government. What this does do is to allow the Defence Force to re-skill our youth, provide a spurt of energy into our economy and provide us with some revenue from the various departments we are servicing as a Service Provider, which means that our renewal can be taken care of by our own efforts.

“We are faced with huge unemployment, especially amongst the youth, a youth that could quite probably be disgruntled, with no prospects of employment. We are the answer to that unemployed youth. We can increase our capacity, so that we can respond to the second most urgent challenge facing us in this country. If you want to deal with the issue of unemployment, think creatively about the Defence Force,” Sisulu added.