The interim National Defence Force Service Commission has recommended significant salary increases for the country’s soldiers.
The commission was set up by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to probe service conditions and remuneration packages following a violent protest at the Union Buildings on August 26.
It handed its final report to the minister last week, Eyewitness News reports.
Commission chairperson Judge Ronnie Bosielo told the radio news service that while he could not disclose the recommendations they would vastly improve working conditions for military personnel if they were accepted.
“The minister of Defence still has to go the other relevant departments – the Treasury, the minister of Finance – to discuss the possible financial implications on the budget. I can assure you we have made very explicit, direct and pertinent recommendations in that regard,” Bosielo said.
The judge said it was also recommended that a permanent commission be set up to ensure soldiers are treated fairly.
The Department of Defence (DoD) last month said the South African National Defence Force has suffered a decade of neglect.
It was at the time reacting to an interim report that painted a damning picture of conditions in the military, with underpaid soldiers living in shacks or in filthy barracks. Morale was low and discipline had in some places collapsed.
“The truth is that the current situation in the SANDF has been for a long time coming,” the DoD said in a media release.
“Despite our success as an African peacekeeping contributing force, the SANDF has in reality experienced a decade of neglect.”
Bosielo told Parliament he and his fellow commisioners “wondered how soldiers survive with the salaries they are getting.”
“Because of the salary bracket they are in, they do not qualify for RDP (reconstruction and development programme, i.e. state subsidised low cost) houses. At the same time, because of the meagre salaries they earn, they do not qualify to go to banks to secure bonds, so they are falling [through] the cracks. And what are the cracks? To go to the informal settlements and stay in the shacks in the townships.
“This is what prompted us to draft and prepare an interim report to the minister; to draw her attention and say we are sitting on a time bomb. If you don’t attend to it today – or yesterday – you’re going to regret it,” Bosielo said.
Pic:A delapiated bathroom at the Doornkop military base in Johannesburg.