The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans called for “regular interaction” with communities affected by sewage and other pollution of the Vaal River when she visited Emfuleni Municipality recently.
This, a senior Reserve Force officer tasked with strategy and planning of Project Koba-Tlala believes will be a good window to show at least some of the reskilling that is an integral part of the project.
“Effective liaison with the local community in the Vaal/Emfuleni municipal area is a sensitive but important aspect,” Lieutenant Colonel Philip Coetzer said, adding by way of illustration there are currently 200 Reserve Force members who have successfully undergone ETDP-SETA (Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority) community facilitator training. He believes this qualification can be put to good use in community liaison as part of the national defence force’s involvement in the overall Vaal River pollution clean-up in the light of the Ministerial call for community interaction.
The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was committed to this civil/military co-operation tasking by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni when he presented his medium-term budget to the National Assembly in October. He told MPs both President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also SANDF Commander-in-Chief, and Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, approved his request for military assistance to “resolve the crisis in the Vaal River System”.
Another area where reskilled Reserves can play a part in the Vaal River tasking is security. Coetzer said there are 200 Reserve Force members who have successfully undergone SASSETA (Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority) and believes they will be well utilised if deployed as part of this tasking.
Project Koba-Tlala is part of the national defence force’s commitment to government’s National Development Plan. Among its focus points are creating entrepreneurship in rural areas via fresh produce co-operatives for military bases and units as well as upskilling Reserve Force members. This is aimed at making them employable outside call-ups for military service, in many instances the only income earning opportunity currently available to part-time soldiers, also known as the SANDF’s expansion capability.