BUDGET VOTES Vote 23: Defence

Hon. Inkosi Cebekhulu, MP
23 July 2020

Honourable Chairperson, Ministers and Honourable Members, the Department of Defence (DOD) is one the few Departments whose budget has been revised upwards to assist in its support of the national Covid-19 response programme.

This function will remain a primary one, as the positive cases continue to rise across the country.

It is important to note that while the adjustment of R2.880 billion is significant and necessary, it still does not align with the costs of the SANDF deployment.

As the National State of Disaster continues to be extended, the cost of maintaining our troops will climb proportionally. These costs include compensation, healthcare, protective equipment and operational expenses associated with roadblocks and air support.

The Department has the enormous task of ensuring that our borders are free from illegal intruders who enter our borders without the necessary documentation. These borders cover both those that extend into the sea, and those that stretch across land, separating us from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

The biggest challenge the Department faces in executing its duties is the dilapidated condition of equipment such as vehicles. It is difficult for the Department to effectively secure our borders and fulfil other constitutional mandates without functional and essential tools of the trade. Responding to challenges such as illicit cross-border trade, breaching of fences for ivory poaching and other unlawful conduct like vehicle hijackings, needs adequate support. Another necessary addition is up-to-date technological apparatus at our borders.

This requires finances.

The IFP acknowledges and respects the country’s dire financial situation, however, we believe the Department should receive yet more financial support. This, bearing in mind the ongoing negotiations between the Department and Treasury. Issues such as the poorly-resourced military hospitals, which are forcing members to opt for private or public hospitals, must be addressed.

Finally, socio-economic assistance for military veterans and their dependants will take a significant blow with the downward adjustment of R137 million for the Department of Military Veterans (DMV). At present, there are extremely limited mitigation options for educational and housing support, which form part of the primary DMV programmes.

We urge Treasury to consider this vulnerable group, especially over this period.

The IFP welcomes the budget.

I thank you.

Hon. Inkosi Cebekhulu, MP
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