The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party says Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu should release the interim reports of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission (INDFSC).
The Sunday Times yesterday published extracts from the now-dated reports that Sisulu’s office overnight said created a mistaken impression that poor pay in the defence force had undermined morale to an extent that threatened “national security”.
“The truth is that salaries have never been better in the SANDF, following the December 1, 2009 adjustment announced by the Commander in Chief, President Jacob Zuma soldiers are paid in line with other law enforcement agencies in the country,” the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans says. “The new salaries effected from December 1, 2009 and later back dated to July 1, 2009 saw adjustments of between 2% and 65% with the lowest paid receiving the highest adjustment.
“Trainee soldiers within the Military Skills Development Programme received close to 100% increase,” the MoDMV adds. “The truth is that since her appointment in May 2009 the Minister has prioritised the introduction of a new dispensation for the SANDF which will cater specifically for all the needs of the SANDF out of the public service.”
The statement adds the report mentioned in the Sunday Times was submitted to the minister on November 9 last year. “The report identifies salaries and the ineffectiveness of the complaints and grievances resolution mechanism as the biggest concerns in the SANDF. New adjusted salaries have been implemented since July 1, 2009. A new grievance and complain mechanism has been introduced and an ombudsman platform for the SANDF is being finalised,” the statement adds.
“The report is on going work, when completed it will go to Cabinet before is released to the public. The Minister has explained this to the Portfolio Committee in a number of appearances before the committee and written communication.”
Sisulu’s DA shadow, David Maynier, says the report should be made public as it “will provide vital information on the effect of soldiers’ conditions of service on the combat readiness of the SANDF.” He says the interim reports must be provided to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans “so that committee members are fully briefed on the effect of soldiers’ service conditions on the combat readiness of the SANDF. The portfolio committee are currently legislating in the dark: committee members must pass legislation to provide for a permanent national defence force service commission, which will go a long way to improving soldiers service conditions in the defence force, but committee members cannot be briefed on service conditions in the defence force.
This makes no sense at all.”
Military personnel ranked private to colonel reportedly started receiving the increase and backpay from the 15th of this month. The MoDMV said personnel would collectively receive R750 million in accumulated backpay. Sisulu’s spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya at th time said colonels and naval captains were given a 2% increase in December and a bonus of 10% of his or her previous salary. MSDS trainees will see their salary increase from R2500 a month to R5000 and would be in line for a R12 500 bonus.
Business Day in December had slightly different figures. It said the salary of a first-year MSDS trainee would 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,” the Business Day added at the time.
Attempts to obtain the full current payscales have, to date, been unsuccessful.
Pic: A dilapidated ablusion block at Doornkop Military Base, Johannesburg as photographed by the Sunday Times, September 2009.