Defence budget must take SANDF constitutional role into account

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Thomas Walters, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow deputy defence and military veterans minister, told Parliament certain criteria need to be applied to the South African national defence budget.

One is taking the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) constitutional role to protect the country’s human and economic resources into account.

Another is that the South African military “has to support police and emergency services, within carefully circumscribed circumstances, in situations of emergency and disaster”.

“None of these, given the country’s current geopolitical and internal settings, are ‘nice to haves’ or ‘non-essential’.

“Applied to our context it means a basic minimum capacity and strength for the SANDF is a non-negotiable and any budget that either underfunds the military or siphons off resources from core strategic needs cannot be supported.

“A desire for a well-supported military does not equate to a desire for unnecessary expense or a vanity project or simply an ongoing interest needing to be satisfied. A credible military is a societal investment in conflict avoidance – to avoid the concurrent human and economic costs of conflict. It is a societal investment in protecting jobs and the potential for job creation.”

Responding to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s recent defence budget adjustment vote, Walters said investment in the SANDF was one in being prepared and able to “effectively respond” to the crisis South Africa and the world was currently facing.

He and his party are against, among others, luxury cars for top officers; siphoning off resources that detract from a credible military; long term underinvestment in the military and misdirecting of resources – “whether it is to corrupt Arms Deals, keeping supporters’ sweet or very simply short-sightedness”.

“It does not support expenditure a former colleague in parliament David Maynier called ‘an armed welfare service’ in a national defence force where too many soldiers on the payroll do not fulfil the basic requirements of a credible military.”