Encouraging white South Africans to join the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is not “honourable,” Freedom Front Plus (FF+) defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald maintains.
Speaking during the Defence Amendment Bill debate in Parliament this week he reacted to a call made by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in May. The Minister told a pre-budget briefing she was “concerned” by the small number of white people signing up to serve in the country’s military.
“When I look at the entry levels of the army, the younger ones you see going into a hall (to join), you can literally count how many young white people there are coming into the force,” she said adding it was “a matter for concern because we want to build a defence force which in five years will reflect the demographics of our society”.
She said she had tasked the SANDF to develop a recruitment strategy targeting under-represented population groups.
According to the SA Institute of Race Relations the Department of Defence’s latest employment equity targets are changing. Black employment has dropped to 65% from 72%, Coloured employment is down to 10% from 13%, Indian employment remains at one percent and the target for whites increases from 14 to 24%.
Groenewald this week shot her down saying transformation and affirmative action denied whites opportunities advancement and promotion.
“Attempts to get whites to join the SANDF are hypocritical. The ANC, with its transformation and affirmative action policies, fired 76 white colonels. In 2006 an officers’ training course was instituted at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) but only for black, brown and Indian soldiers.
“If the ANC thinks it can lure white people to the defence force but then tell them they cannot attend an officers’ training course due to transformation and affirmative action, the government is misleading itself that white people will join the SANDF.
“If government really wants to introduce amendments to the Defence Act that are in the best interests of the country, it would amend the Constitution to do away with affirmative action,” he said.
Groenewald maintains affirmative action does not allow South Africa to make full use of the human potential it has, not only in the defence sector but in other areas as well.
Last month South African Army chief Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo said that the landward arm of service was targeting white youngsters as this group was not coming in in sufficient numbers. He said it is imperative that the SANDF is representative of South Africa and important for everyone to realise that the SANDF is a national asset supported by all South Africans.