Movement on the Defence Review front


Following a period of stagnation there again appears to be some forward movement regarding the Defence Review.

Review Committee chairman Roelf Meyer said a meeting with Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was scheduled for this Friday.

This follows two meetings with her in October and November last year where she requested some “technical changes” to the 420 plus page document prepared by Meyer and his committee members. At that time Review Committee spokesman Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen said the document would probably make it to Parliament by March.

The Review was called for by previous Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in July 2011. She indicated she wanted to table the document in Parliament last October after extensive consultation. This saw Review Committee members travel widely across the country interacting with the public as well as representatives of non-government organisations, community-based organisations, the defence industry and senior command of the South African National Defence Force and its four arms of service.

A Cabinet reshuffle saw Sisulu moved from the defence portfolio to Public Administration in the middle of last year. The new Minister spent time getting to grips with the ins and outs of defence which saw Sisulu’s deadline pass and as yet there has been no update from Mapisa-Nqakula’s office on when it is likely the draft document will find its way to Cape Town.

Meyer’s six member committee, assisted by a similar number of people in its resource group, were tasked by Sisulu to review and update the existing Defence Review and White Paper on Defence. This, she said, was because existing policy documents primarily provided for transformation in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) but this has been achieved and now changes in government policy, particularly regarding foreign policy and international relations, also meant changes in the use of the military as an instrument of government.

Overall Meyer and his team were tasked to produce a draft blueprint with a short and long term focus on the SANDF and the local defence industry.

This part of the work has been completed and the Meyer team now awaits further instructions from Mapisa-Nqakula.

One aspect of the voluminous document that is sure to attract attention from the defence sector is the recommendation to disband procurement agency Armscor. Its functions will be taken over by a new agency/office working under the direction of Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube.