Ministry of Defence budget hopelessly inadequate – Sisulu

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The Ministry of Defence’s R38.4 billion budget is “hopelessly inadequate”, according to Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu, who has requested additional funding for border safeguarding and maritime security, and received some supplemental funds.

“I described the R38.4 billion allocation [to the South African National Defence Force] as hopelessly inadequate since it was projected to grow to R43.9 billion in 2013/14,” Sisulu stated in a written reply to a parliamentary question posed by M A Nhanha of Cope.
“I still maintain that view and we approached the National Treasury for additional funding. The National Treasury responded by allocating limited additional funds for border safeguarding,” Sisulu stated.

For 2012/13, Sisulu requested an additional R520 million for border safeguarding and R755 million for maritime security, but only received R200 million for border safeguarding and nothing for maritime security.

For the 2013/14 budget, Sisulu asked for R546 million for border safeguarding and was allocated R250 million. Similarly, for 2014/15 Sisulu’s department was allocated R299 million out of R573 million requested for this task. However, her requests for additional maritime security funding (R793 million requested for 2013/14 and R832 million for 2014/15) resulted in zero allocations.
“We will continue to engage the National Treasury during the adjustments budget process for 2012/13 and also during 2013/14 budget process,” Sisulu stated. “Furthermore, the Department is also reassessing its internal programme allocations based on government priorities and also to ensure effective and efficient economic utilization of available resources.”

The minister’s comments that the defence budget was inadequate stem partly from the additional responsibilities the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has to shoulder, notably guarding the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, dealing with stock thefts between South Africa and Lesotho, guarding the coastal waters of southern Africa against pirates and assisting rangers in their fight against rhino poaching.

In February Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan announced the SANDF’s budget had increased by several billion this year, up from R34 349 087 000 for the year ending March. According to the Estimate of National Expenditure (ENE) document (Vote 22, Defence and Military Veterans), the budget for FY2013/14 will be R39 944 660 000 and the allocation for FY2014/15 R42 332 109 000.

Sisulu has previously argued for a budget equivalent to 2% of GDP, which would roughly amount to an increase in her budget to R50 billion.
“In the short term, the department will focus on: reviewing the defence strategy, which will inform the departmental force design and force structure; the continued phased-in implementation of the border management strategy, which includes border safeguarding; the approval of the policy framework to form the basis for implementing the Defence Amendment Act (2010); defence’s contribution to the finalisation of the national security strategy component of the revised 1999 White Paper on the South African Defence Related Industries; and the development of a defence industry strategy to position the defence function in a way that maximises the responsiveness of the defence industry,” the ENE reads.
“Specific strategic priorities over the medium term include: executing the border safeguarding function, continuing with the institutionalisation of the new service dispensation for South African National Defence Force members, enhancing the Defence Force’s landward capabilities, ensuring optimal human and capital acquisition through approved defence industry projects, enhancing the Defence Force’s peacekeeping capability, revitalising the reserve component, and consolidating the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) maritime security strategy. This was recently ratified within the structures of the SADC and its subsidiary organs.”
“The department further contributes to and supports the United Nations (UN) requirements for its peace missions and work in collaboration with the African Union (AU) in support of the SADC peace support initiatives, which will enable the organisation’s member states to react in time to conflicts or natural disasters. It also provides support in terms of the SADC’s standby force agreements.
“A key component of government policy is the promotion of regional, continental and global security through defence diplomacy initiatives, which include the employment of defence capabilities in support of the UN and AU peace missions within the African landscape. The defence force has provided substantial support to peace missions, natural and humanitarian disaster, and democratic elections through its inherent land, air, maritime and military health capabilities. The department has made substantial progress in building sound relations with countries in Africa and the rest of the world. Current deployments are mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and in maritime operations supporting regional security. Support has been provided to post-conflict reconstruction and training initiatives on the African continent.”