The South African National Defence Force’s involvement in the planned Border Management Authority, BMA, and the implementation of the 2015 Defence Review, call for an enlarged budget, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yesterday.
Mapisa-Nqakula kept her portfolio in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle.
Her remarks could indicate that after a long period without any significant increases, the defence budget could be in line for a rise, despite the pressures on government finances as she hinted that National Treasury will have to provide extra funding for the BMA as it shouldn’t take away money from the defence force.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the BMA, which has to be signed off by President Jacob Zuma, should be implemented within three years and be fully fledged in five. South African Army troops will continue to be deployed on the border.
The Minister was speaking at the Homeland Security Africa 2017 conference at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria yesterday. She said that matters of homeland security, although a term borrowed from the US, were central to SA’s new security management architecture, which includes the Border Management Authority and an enhanced cyber capability. The aim of the new Authority, which has been planned for nearly ten years, will be to ensure the enhanced cooperation between government entities involved in border security.
Currently the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has 15 army companies deployed on the country’s borders. Mapisa-Nqakula said this was insufficient for the protection of SA’s borders.
“We need technologies and sensors. We have challenges in maritime. We don’t have enough men,” the Minister said.
Even without a BMA, “there is a need for a consideration of an increase in the defence budget “particularly as the land force capabilities need to be upgraded,” the Minister said on the verges of the conference.
“The only way you can do that is if you have a bigger budget. I don’t want to sound like I’m lobbying for that,” she added.
It is uncertain at this stage whether Armscor, which is in charge of South African National Defence Force procurement, will also take on that role for the BMA. Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford has called for South African companies involved in the field to come together to offer a local solutions.
The main sponsors of yesterday’s conference included local IT companies involved in IT security and data analysis, including NEC, XON, and SA player EOH, along with SA-German firm Hensoldt, Armscor and the SA Aerospace Maritime & Defence Industries Association (AMD).
In other remarks yesterday, the Minister criticised selected SA defence companies, that she declined to name when asked, for failure to meet deadlines on export orders.
“I am not going to mention companies and I will not say what equipment. If you don’t seize the opportunity to prove your worth, then you are creating a problem of credibility, integrity, and commitment for the country,” she said.
The Minister’s remarks follow those of Kevin Wakeford in the latest (2016/17) Armscor Annual Report released yesterday. In the report Wakeford singled out government-owned defence and technology conglomerate, Denel, for not meeting contractual obligations as regards “the execution of critical projects”.
During the conference yesterday Wakeford called on the defence and security sectors to work together with government to combat threats including organised crime and ensure national security.