The delay in announcing the membership of the South African National Defence Service Commission can at least be partly ascribed to the large number of nominations received for prospective commissioners.
Department of Defence head of communications Siphiwe Dlamini says “about 700 nominations” had been received by the closing date after the initial announcement by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in February.
“It is expected the first permanent Commission members will be appointed in time to start work in September and commissioners will serve a non-renewable five year term,” he said.
In terms of the Defence Amendment Act the number of serving commissioners cannot be less than eight or more than 10 and nominations are currently being processed, The New Age reports. The appointment of members to the Service Commission follows Sisulu’s creation of an Interim Defence Force Service Commission to look at problems, particularly pertaining to accommodation and other facilities for military personnel as well as salaries in the wake of the soldiers’ protest that turned violent outside the Union Buildings in August 2009.
Commissioners will be tasked with the overall welfare of the SANDF’s 64 431 uniformed personnel and its 12 737 civilians in what military analysts and observers regard as a first move to ending soldiers’ membership of trade unions. This was alluded to by the President, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, when he addressed the first ever Armed Forces Day in Thaba Tshwane on December 16 last year.
Zuma told those present in the Thaba Tshwane town hall military discipline was “non-negotiable” and military personnel were “not ordinary civil servants”.
“For these reasons I have signed the Defence Amendment Bill into law. It provides for, among others, a dispensation to manage all the affairs of the SANDF. Once fully implemented it will ensure soldiers are accorded the status and recognised in a manner commensurate with their unique nature and the relation they have with the State, which expects them to provide national security,” Zuma said at the time.