Zuma equalises defence, police pay

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President Jacob Zuma yesterday used his Day of Reconciliation speech to announce the equalisation of defence force and police service pay in a move that will effective from December 1 this year see privates paid a lance corporal’s salary.

  ”…as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] , it is my pleasure to announce increases in the salaries of members of the SANDF, who are on salary levels 2 to 12, from privates to colonels or the occupational class of military practitioner.
“The increases will range from 2% to 65%, and this is effective from the 1st of December 2009.”

 Zuma also told his audience at the Freedom Park memorial at Salvokop in Pretoria that had he was acting on the recommendations of the interim report of the interim National Defence Force Service Commission.

“The commission has pointed out that members of the SANDF have been disadvantaged in salary negotiations since 2001, and that this situation negatively affects the lives and morale of our soldiers.
“They have been remunerated at the same level as the general public service which has made them to lag behind in remuneration packages.
“The Commission has recommended the short-term relief of bringing the SANDF on par with the SA Police Service,” the President said.
“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans will provide more detail on the implementation of this announcement at a later stage.”

 

A Department of Defence (DoD) spokesman said defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu was planning a media briefing for tomorrow afternoon on the matter.
 

The DoD, the Democratic Alliance and the SA National Defence Union (SANDU)have welcomed the announcement, the latter saying it has been agitating for the move for the last four years.

A riotous march by SANDU supporters on August 26 to highlight their concerns over pay and service conditions put the mater on the public agenda.

In its statement the DoD said the SANDF “hails … Zuma’s announcement … as a critical step in the journey towards improved conditions of service.”
“The President’s announcement … follows an intensive consultative process triggered by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu’s promise to prioritise conditions of service, in her speech to parliament during the Defence Budget Vote, on July 3”, before the August mutiny.

“Today’s pronouncement by President Zuma, that, “we want to invest in the development of the Defence Force and the young people who are drawn into this noble calling of defending the country”, will boost morale and send the clear signal to soldiers that an era of relative military neglect is over,” the DoD added.
“Improved salaries are an important first step towards improved service conditions for soldiers. Other steps are already gathering momentum.”
 

Democratic Alliance defence shadow minister David Maynier welcomed the announcement as “necessary” but added it was not by itself sufficient to improve service conditions in the SANDF.
“What we need is a more detailed announcement from Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, setting out how is she will overhaul recruitment, restore discipline, deal with promotions and improve the quality of infrastructure in the SANDF.”
 



Pic:A South African peacekeeper on United Nations duty.