Service term endings saw new members appointed to the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) and a re-appointment allowing it to again function as it has been without a quorum since September last year.
By law the DFSC must have no fewer than eight and no more than ten members, with six forming a quorum.
Based in Kasteelpark, east of the Defence Ministry and SA National Defence Force headquarters, the DFSC’s motto is “In support of SANDF soldiers”. This is primarily executed by research and proposals to improve salaries and working conditions of SANDF personnel.
The new members of the Commission are University of KwaZulu-Natal human resources executive director Dr Siphelele Zulu; medical doctor, former member of SA Military Health Services and currently chairman of Aquarius Healthcare, Dr Ziyaad Essop and AME Africa Healthcare human resource manager Advocate Nokuzola Gloria Khumalo. Ian Robertson, a former Gauteng provincial government official, was re-appointed as a DFSC board member. They were selected from a list of 70 nominations by a specially appointed DFSC nominations committee under the chairmanship of MP Dr DD Gamede.
The new commissioners all serve on a per-time basis for a five year term.
The DFSC must, according to its establishing documentation, meet at least twice a year.
Following the appointment of the four members and the fact that there will only be two females amongst the commissioners, a decision has been taken to further advertise for the nomination of females for the remaining three vacancies of the commission.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the appointments were a step in the right direction “considering the amount of work ahead of the DFSC”.
The DFSC executes its mandate by conducting visits to military bases in South Africa as well as to operational bases, the border protection tasking Operation Corona is an example, and to continental deployments.
Established in 2009, the DFSC’s mandate is to, among others, conduct research and make recommendations for improvements of salaries and service benefits of members of the SANDF on an annual basis, policies in respect of service conditions and the promotion of measures and setting standards for effective implementation of policies.
Over the past nine years, the DFSC has successfully undertaken a number of projects, including proving inputs into the Defence Act amendments and the 2015 Defence Review, exercising oversight over the implementation of the recommendations of the interim DFSC and recommending Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) adjustments for members of the SANDF.
The DFSC faces a number of challenges. One of these is delinking salary from rank for members of the SANDF. “Following research and extensive benchmarking, the DFSC came to the realization that delinking rank from salary is a complex matter and may be too costly for the SANDF. Other alternatives are being explored in light of the socio-economic challenges in the country,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in 2017. Salary stagnation affects some 17% of the SANDF.
In 2017 the DFSC Pay and Service Benefits Committee (PSBC) recommended increasing salaries (but not ranks) of 8 900 affected personnel based on years of completed service and good performance.
In mid-2018 Mapisa-Nqakula said she had received 263 recommendations from the DFSC in the last financial year.