At the centre of its raison d’etre for the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC), a ministerial advisory body is supposed to provide expert advice to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans regarding conditions of service for South African military personnel.
This is not happening because the DFSC is unable to meet Minister Thandi Modise, a Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) meeting heard.
Reporting on a virtual meeting, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) stated: “The DFSC reported that it wrote about five letters to the Minister requesting meetings and was told that was being looked at, but it never received a favourable response from the Office of the Minister confirming that they would meet on a specific date. The last meeting the DFSC had with the Minister in August last year  was useful, but the Commission needs to understand the Minister’s thinking on many issues and this remains an outstanding matter”.
The absence of Modise during the virtual meeting was noted by PMG.
“The JSCD was also supposed to receive feedback from the Minister of Defence on engagements with the Commission and the way forward. However, this agenda item was deferred as the Minister and her deputy were not in attendance”.
Her absence was explained by the fire which swept through parts of the SA Army Combat Training Centre in the Northern Cape province in October last year.
Public representatives on one of Parliament’s two defence and military veterans’ oversight committees heard the DFSC could not execute all its plans as listed in its 2022/23 annual activity report, including consultative visits to bases and units. The visits are seen as important in obtaining on-the-ground information from SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel as far as implementation of findings as well as identifying further issues needing attention.
As far as its finances were concerned, the DFSC told the JSCD it “surrendered” R1.6 million, or 27.5% of its operational budget. This was due to “difficulty” in conducting consultation visits put down to “challenges experienced with the Department of Defence (DoD)/SANDF”.
Cancellation of “procurement processes” for the DFSC website – projected to cost R1.5 million – was another contributor to the loss of operational budget.