Personnel rightsizing shaping up to be a headache for DoD


Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence ((JSCD) was last week briefed by National Treasury on implementation of the Defence Review 2015 with a major point of contention being how Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s department and its operating arm, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), is going to achieve the recommended personnel rightsizing.

The committee, according to research done by Parliament’s dedicated research unit and used by the JSCD, should ask the Department of Defence (DoD) about staffing levels in the national military machine as implied in Milestone One of the Defence Review.
“Milestone One,” it said in a brief tabled at the meeting, “implies the reduction of personnel from the current figure (in excess of 90 000) to a total of 72 000. How will this reduction be funded and managed? What will the total cost of the personnel reduction be and is this budgeted for in the planned R43 to R57 billion allocated to the first two milestones of the Defence Review? What system will be used to determine which soldiers should remain?” is a further question.

The brief also points out the 2017 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) note a reduction of personnel from 78 345, excluding Reserves, in 2016/17 to 69 609 in 2017/18. This, it says, is crucial to the achievement of Milestone One and “will require the employment of up to 8 736 permanent uniformed and civilian SANDF members to be terminated”. It suggest the JSCD ask the DoD how this reduction will be achieved in in the 2017/18 financial cycle, what it cost will be and, more importantly, will it impact on future recruitment.

Milestone One of the Defence Review, under the overall aim of arresting the decline in the SANDF, calls for a reduction in personnel to 72 000, Milestone Two, on the other hand, calls for an increase to 101 000 the Parliamentary research unit said. The JSCD should find out from the DoD how this will be managed. Will individuals declared redundant in Milestone One be recalled or will 29 000 new troops be trained, it asks and also wants to know if there will be sufficient funding to manage the increase in personnel.

National Treasury’s Dr Rendani Randela told the JSCD meeting compensation (wages and salaries) for DoD and SANDF employees stood at 57% of the total defence budget for 2016/17, In the 2001/02 financial year it was 39%.

Randela also pointed out the current macro-composition of the defence budget is unsustainable given limited funds for “other discretionary items” to modernise the SANDF.