Deputy defence minister recruiting MSDS in PE

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Deputy Defence Minister Fezile Bhengu is in Port Elizabeth today to recruit youths for the Military Skills Development System (MSDS), a two year voluntary military service programme.   
The defence department says Bhengu’s visit to KwaZakhele in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality follows “Government’s commitment to inject R700 Million into the skills development programme.”
The department in its latest annual report credits the MSDS with dramatically changing the age and health profile of the South African National Defence Force`s junior ranks.
In 2002 just 7% of the SANDF`s privates and seamen were younger than 24 years. The report says the figure now exceeds 43% of the regular force and 51% of the total force.
“This has had a major impact upon the medical fitness and combat-readiness of members within this rank group, specifically within the SA Army.”
“The MSDS remains the primary mechanism through which the Department contributes towards structured military skills development, as well as occupational-functional skills development and leadership development amongst the youth.
The MSDS has been in place since 2003 but a tight budget has resulted in anaemic recruiting. The July 2007 intake was 779 and 2 406 recruits reported for duty in January 2008, down from 4 518 the year before.
The annual report restates the DoD`s ambition to expand enrolment to 10 000 new recruits “over the MTEF period, to ensure a continuous output of suitably qualified, fit and healthy young soldiers until the rejuvenation requirements of both the Regular and Reserve Forces have been met.”