The Ministry of Defence says Parliament should ask it to brief members on the state of readiness of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). That after another question by a MP on “the actual readiness” of the military.
“We urge the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to call on the Department of Defence, who is in a state of readiness to engage with the said Committee, so that we can put this matter behind us,” the ministry said in a written answer to a question by ANC MP Emmanuel Mlambo.
But the briefing would not be open to the public. “The information required is of a confidential nature and the details will only be made available to members of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans at a closed meeting,” the MoD says.
Addressing the media on the planned activities of Cabinet’s International Cooperation Trade & Security cluster this year, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu repeated her department was ready to talk to Parliament on the SANDF’s state of readiness.
“… we are very ready to do that to the mandated portfolio committee of Parliament and at the request of that particular committee… [but] we have received no request on this particular matter…” she said in an unedited transcript f the conference provided to defenceWeb by the Government Communications and Information System. “This is a matter that comes up over and over again either in press briefings or when we are in Parliament and my answer has been the same. When we receive a request from an accredited portfolio committee we will comply and we have done this in the past and we will continue doing so there are of course attendant requirements from our side and we would like that particular mandated portfolio committee would observe this. When get that request we will brief Parliament on this matter.”
The opposition Democratic Alliance has previously insisted the hearings be held in public. The party and defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu sparred on the very issue last July. The minister then said Parliament`s oversight of the defence and security establishment required a balance between security and transparency. But DA deputy defence spokesman at the time, James Lorimer, replied that any “hostile power who had to wait for the parliamentary portfolio committee briefing “to decide where our weaknesses lay would not be an enemy to be concerned about.”
The DA then questioned why readiness briefings had be secret considering similar briefings to the media by Service chiefs. The Parliamentary Monitoring Group had then-acting defence secretary Tsepe Motumi responding that these “were primarily public relations exercises, concerned with showcasing. They could not be described as proper combat readiness briefings.”