Pay boost to increase SANDF salary bill R1.9bn


Salary increases of up to 98% and a once-of bonus for low-ranking members of the South African National Defence Force announced on Reconciliation Day by President Jacob Zuma will cost the state R1.9 billion a year.

It will add R621 million to the current defence budget of R31 billion that runs to the end of March.

Business Day reports this morning defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu at a visit to Youngsfield mlitary base in Cape Town yesterday said the funds will be “borrowed forward from the long-term procurement budget for logistics, which would be refunded from the medium-term expenditure framework allocation for salary increases, which becomes available in the 2010- 11 fiscal year.”

The paper says Cabinet has not approved the increases but Sisulu said Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had given the go-ahead for them on the basis of the recommendations contained in the interim report of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission.

The increases, with effect from December 1, will see the salary of a first-year Military Skills Development (MSD) trainee soldier rising from R2643 a month to R4318, that of a second-year trainee from R2643 to R5343, a private from R5286 to R7871, a lance corporal from R6149 to R8519, and a sergeant from R8962 to R10 182. For most of the rankings above this level the increases were less substantial.

The increase package includes the one-of distribution of a bonus of R1688 to each solder instead of the normal allocation of incentive bonuses to high-ranking officers only, which has generated a lot of discontent within the ranks.

Sisulu endeared herself to the crowd when she told them “it is not much” but that they would get the bonus on December 23, the Sowetan said.

The Sowetan newspaper aid hundreds of soldiers erupted in cheers and tears of joy when Sisulu made the announcement.

Sisulu also announced that Zuma had agreed to the creation of a separate department for military veterans.

The minister briefed soldiers at Youngsfield about the increases and said a permanent commission to advise on salaries and rankings for the force was planned along the lines of the Public Service Commission for the public service, as the force required its own dispensation. A draft bill providing for this had been prepared for submission to the Cabinet, Business Day added.

The minister further told the soldiers that an occupation-specific salary dispensation was on the cards. Work was also being done to address the concerns, raised repeatedly by auditor-general Terence Nombembe, over the financial management of the department as a basis for securing more money from the fiscus.

While welcoming the salary increases, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said the establishment of a commission in no way justified the banning of trade unions within the force . “We will oppose strongly any move to ban unions in the forces,” it said.

Sisulu and Zuma in September said they wanted to de-unionise the mlitary in the wake of a mutinous riot at the Union Buildings in August about poor salaries and service conditions.

She also told reporters that the SA Air Force was in line foe a new transport aircraft following he cancellation of the Airbus Military A400M Loadmaster. A request would be made to Cabinet “soon” for approval of the acquisition.

Sisulu also announced that soldiers would be sent to the borders by 2010 “to protect the constitutional security of South Africa”, the Sowetan said.

This would free up police to fight crime.

Sisulu is conducting a similar visit at the Engineer Corps base at Dunnottar, Springs,this morning.