Unpacking the Defence Review compiled by Roelf Meyer and his team Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, pointed out there was “an urgent need” to capacitate and re-equip the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
She told a briefing in Pretoria this was the only way to turn around the declining state of the country’s military.
Additionally the SANDF had to be rejuvenated and expanded as far as its human resource component was concerned.
“These and other shortcomings must be addressed to prevent the steady decline of the SANDF and the potentially disastrous consequences that could follow,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The 1998 Defence Review worked on the assumption South Africa would deploy only a single battalion for continental operations, both for peacekeeping and peace support. By 2006 four battalions were deployed continentally. There are currently South African soldiers, from all four arms of service, in the DRC and Sudan’s Darfur region.
“Commitments in Africa far exceed what was anticipated in the aftermath of the advent of democracy in 1994,” she said.
Apart from continental commitments, South Africa was also a signatory to various treaties and protocols on defence and security in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional grouping.
“These require the SANDF to commit troops and assets as well.”
She said Meyer’s Defence Review Committee found that if the current state of affairs, particularly as regards funding for the SANDF, continued it will become more and more costly to reverse in future.
Taskings presently undertaken by soldiers, apart from continental deployments in support of peace operations, include border protection, the protection of maritime routes and defend the nation against aggression, would become more difficult to successfully execute without additional funding.
“The Review states the defence budget must meet the financial requirements arising from the roles and missions set by government for the national defence force,” she said.