More clarity on SCAMP, capabilities needed: Maynier

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Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans David Maynier wants greater clarity on military capital acquisition and capability.

Speaking yesterday in reply to Lindiwe Sisulu’s budget vote, he said “the truth is that we do not know anything about capital acquisition: Parliament has never been properly briefed on the Defence Force’s capital acquisition projects under the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP).

He continued that the minister also refuses to reply to parliamentary questions on capital acquisition, arguing that: “The Department is not at liberty to release this information to the public as it may compromise security plans of the SANDF and also generate undue speculation within the country and the industry”. Maynier called this ridiculous. Secretary for Sam Gulube, speaking ahead of the budget debate yesterday again said divulging details about the planned military acquisitions would jeopardise the security of “our men and women in uniform. We do not want to feed our enemies, such as rhino poachers and pirates, who are constantly watching us, with sensitive information.”

Maynier continues “we do not know anything about the Special Defence Account: Parliament has never been briefed on the Defence Force’s secret account, used, we are told, mainly for spending on weapon systems. This, despite the fact that every year billions of Rand are channelled through the Special Defence Account.
“Since 1999, I would estimate that more than R80 billion has been channelled through the Special Defence Account. And, Parliament has absolutely no idea how that money has been spent by the Defence Force.”

Turning to capability, Maynier avered the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) has never been briefed on the military preparedness of the defence force. “We do not know enough about the ‘capability gaps’ which exist in the defence force. But we do know enough to suggest that, in the unlikely event of a conventional threat, President Jacob Zuma will require a big white flag to wave from the Union Buildings. Because the current state of the Defence Force’s military preparedness leaves the President with only one possible course of action, in the event of a conventional attack, and that is: ‘surrender’. Thankfully, there is no prospect of a conventional threat to South Africa in the foreseeable future.”

Sisulu has previously agreed to brief the JSCD, but only behind closed door and in confidence. The DA has rejected this arguing the public has a right to know.