SANDF moves into rural economic development

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Co-operatives, public/private partnerships, small towns, organised agriculture and envisaged military agri-villages are seen as beneficiaries of what has been termed “a ground-breaking pilot project” led by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in North West.

The provincial government and North West University are also involved in what is the first implementation of former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s vision of soldiers contributing to economic development, particularly in rural areas.

Speaking in what was to be her final budget vote last year she said: “We have a vision of a soldier who will take part in ensuring he or she provides and supports the necessary infrastructure for economic development”.
“The dispersion of defence facilities leans towards an ability to interface with rural communities. In this regard I have approved a concept whereby the SANDF will use its footprint in rural and semi-rural areas in terms of units, land and spending of resources in conjunction with local communities, rural towns, provincial governments and other stakeholders to augment and catalyse rural developmental initiatives by providing nodal points or hubs from which community engagement, stakeholder co-ordination and structural requirements toward creating viable sustainable local economies can take place.”

This would entail a revision of procurement policies using the SANDF footprint in rural and semi-rural areas to the benefit of local businesses.

The procurement revision, with North West the first beneficiary, was welcomed by provincial premier Thandi Modise. She said it would stimulate and boost local economies and impact positively or rural development after hearing a presentation by Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer in Mafikeng.

Referring particularly to Potchefstroom, where there is a reasonably sized military population Modise saw a spend of at least R61 million a year on rations alone.

The North West pilot is part of the SANDF rural infrastructure commitment using its footprint of both bases and ground to set up nodal points or hubs from which community engagement, stakeholder co-ordination and specific infrastructural requirements toward creating viable sustainable local economies can take place.

These developments, the one star general said, would in no way affect the core business of the SANDF.



The North West pilot project will be formalised in the foreseeable future via a memorandum of understanding between the provincial government, the university and the SANDF.