Tito Mboweni, the man President Cyril Ramaphosa called on to pull South Africa out of the financial quagmire the country finds itself in, appears to be aware of the country’s defence force and its capabilities.
He made two mentions of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in his maiden medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) in Parliament this week.
The first, reported by Daily Maverick, was the Department of Defence (DoD) “boosting its coffers by R728 million”. This newly minted finance minister Mboweni said was reimbursement from the United Nations for participation in “various peacekeeping and other missions”.
He did not indicate where the world body money would go. Past practice has been for reimbursements of this type to go into National Treasury’s B7 account. This account is the depository for services provided by the SANDF, either internally such as the deployment of SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) to North West earlier this year or external deployments. Currently the SANDF is providing both troops and materiel to the world body’s single largest peacekeeping mission – MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The reimbursement will be welcomed by the national defence force whose leadership has on a number of occasions this year spoken about the lack of funding impacting on the force’s ability. Accessing funds in this account is notoriously difficult and needs properly constructed and detailed requisition requests. With Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her leadership team under stress to find alternative funding models it would not be wishful thinking to approach Treasury, which it is reportedly speaking to about funding.
The much-vaunted Defence Review 2015 is also in the firing line as insufficient funding is preventing implementation. This was noted in the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report which stated “cost-driven components of the plan to arrest the decline in defence capabilities remain unfunded”.
The newly-minted Finance Minister also told the National Assembly, military expertise would be part of the solution to the Vaal River water crisis.
“Our immediate focus is to mobilise short-term financing by reprioritising funds and increasing capacity. I have asked the President and the Minister of Defence for the military to assist with engineering and other expertise to resolve the crisis in the Vaal River System. I am happy to report approval has been granted and the generals in charge have started working on solutions,” he said.
There was, at the time of publication, no information from the SANDF on its involvement in correcting the Vaal River System.