NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TUESDAY, 18 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 14:00 – 16:15 Vote 23 & 26: Defence and Military Veterans

Hon. RT Cebekhulu / Hon. MN Nxumalo

 

Honourable Chairperson,

It remains essential that our national defence capability remains at a state of readiness, in respect of both national defence and with regard to peacekeeping missions in both the region, and the continent.

In order to fulfil the above mandate, certain fundamentals must be in place and fully functional.

It continues to be of concern to the IFP that the following areas – if not addressed – will have detrimental effects upon the sustainability of an effective defence capability:

Despite budget cuts, the use of civilian contractors has increased from R2.185 billion in 2020/21, to R3.063 billion in 2021/22. This is almost a billion rand and a nearly 30 percent increase in spending. The IFP calls for the most stringent oversight to be deployed over such.

Relating to the administrative costs of the Ministry of the Department of Defence, for 2021/22, the cost of the Ministry is R125.5 million, which is significantly higher than the R97.2 million spent in 2020/21.

Defence capacity is only as good as the Defence Force’s manpower and technology. On both these fronts, urgent redress is required. Low morale amongst troops leads to ill-discipline, criminal activity and general ineffectiveness. Steps must be taken to ensure that the members of the SANDF are well-trained and equipped. A sense of national pride must be instilled and not undermined.

Outdated technology and equipment that is no longer in working condition not only endangers the lives of our troops and those that they may be there to protect but also contributes to low morale. The acquisition of new and modern equipment to maintain a professional military force remains an urgent priority. Refitting of primary naval vessels must be prioritised – not only for defence but also to assist with the policing and the protection of territorial waters from illegal fishing, which is currently plundering our fishing stocks. This remains a very real threat to the nation’s sustainable food security.

Any savings should be repurposed especially towards operational expenses, specifically fuel and other operational needs that negatively affect the attaining of flying-and sea hour targets, as this directly impacts upon defence capability and readiness.

The IFP agrees that border security is an urgent priority that must be allocated additional budget and other resources. The continuing porosity of our borders presents the country with increased risk, not only socio-economically, but also in terms of regional and international crime.

In respect of Defence and Military Veterans, the IFP supports calls for the improvement of healthcare and accelerated access thereto for Military Veterans and their dependents, in order to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

We also call for the urgent prioritisation of the review of Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011, as well as any other inadequate legislation and policy, as this would be central to addressing various other challenges to effectively deliver benefits to military veterans and their dependents.

The IFP will support the Budget Vote.

I thank you.