Look to operational efficiency, not Cuban contracts – FF+ MP

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Freedom Front Plus (FF+) parliamentarian Fanie du Toit maintains a possible review of Cuban defence contracts is essential with an eye to improving operational readiness of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

Du Toit, a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) member, agreed with Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise when she reportedly told the NCOP Cuban and other maintenance contracts entered into by the SANDF are going to be “revised”. She was responding to a question asked by the North West NCOP member regarding the “negative impact” of Cuban contracts on SANDF finances.

“A present, the SANDF is hardly able to respond effectively to domestic, let alone foreign, threats due to a serious lack of equipment and proper preparation. Last year’s unrest serves as proof of this. Government’s appointment of Cubans to maintain and repair military vehicles was unaffordable and irrational from the outset.

“The SANDF must end these contracts immediately and turn its attention to ensuring operational preparedness, as required by its constitutional mandate.”

He does not agree with those who say budget cuts are the sole reason for the current sad state of the national defence force.

“Years of overspending on the wage bill, poor planning and misguided objectives all contribute to the decline of a once proud military force,” Du Toit said.

Another reply to a parliamentary question, this one asked by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for Modise’s portfolio Kobus Marais, brought to light the total spend on Cuban involvement with the SANDF will reach R2.9 billion when the contracts finish in three years’ time.

The Caribbean Island/southern tip of Africa defence relationship is defended by Modise who told Marais “South Africa has historical relations with Cuba and nothing will change that”. The contracts are due to end in 2025 after starting in 2015.