The South African Army is striving to recruit whites into the landward arm of service of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in order to ensure accurate demographic representation and to avoid having the Army dominated by one race group.
Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Vusimuzi Masondo, said that the Defence Minister said the Army was struggling to bring in white recruits which were needed to ensure the Army is representative of South Africa’s population. In the past, recruitment has been centralised but now the arms of service are able to conduct recruitment themselves, allowing targeted recruitment by the Army.
“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans gave the SA Army a directive during her Budget Vote in Parliament that we must robustly continue tapping into under-represented communities…extra efforts have to be made to ensure that as we redress the imbalances of our painful past, we must guard against falling into an undesirable situation where our military gets disproportionally dominated by one race group,” Masondo said.
The SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) in a survey earlier this year showed that the Department of Defence’s employment equity targets are changing with its black employment target dropping from the current 72% to 65%; Coloured employment also drops from 13% to 10%; Indian employment will remain at 1% and the target for whites will increase from 14% to 24%. Female representation in the SANDF stood at 29% for the FY2012/13 period.
The Institute’s figures are based on information contained in the defence department’s annual report and on its own calculations.
Stats SA’s 2015 mid-year population estimates show blacks represent 80% of the population, coloureds 8.8%, whites 8.2% and Indians 2.4%.
As of 31 March 2014, the South African National Defence Force employed 78 707 people, including 40 121 in the Army, 19 815 in the Air Force, 7 702 in the Navy and 8 380 in the Military Health Services.
Masondo told journalists that as part of the continuing Military Skills Development System force rejuvenation effort, new life has been injected into the SA Army with the recruitment and enlistment of over 1 500 young men and women this year, the majority of whom completed basic military training in May and are currently undergoing corps specific training at bases across the country.
The SA Army also has a programme underway to improve the employability of unemployed youth by empowering them with entrepreneurship skills and other qualities under the Youth Leadership Development Programme (YLDP), formerly the National Youth Service (NYS) which is a partnership between the defence department and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. Since 2012 the Army has conducted two programmes per year, each able to cater for 1 200 young men and women.
“During this programme spearheaded and presented by the SA Army, young men and women are taught the importance of personal discipline, ethical conduct, morality, community service, civic education and the importance of patriotism,” Masondo said.
“The programme also includes water orientation and physical training. Since its inception in 2012, the SA Army as a partner and trainer in the Youth Leadership Development Programme, has to date trained over 6 000 people. We are also part of another similar project involving the Department of Social Development.”