Minister of Defence & Military Veterans on shortlist of candidates to serve on National Defence Force Service Commission
20 Sep 2009
Present: Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans and Mr Tsepe Motumi, Secretary for Defence
The Minister emphasised that the National Defence Force Service Commission had been established to deal with the unique issues of the security forces. The Ministry of Intelligence had crafted a separate dispensation for the Intelligence Services in appreciation and acknowledgement of the distinctive role they play in society. The Defense Force was not any different and Cabinet had approved a new dispensation for them. The Commission would function on an interim basis until a permanent commission is established through legislation.
She announced that the following persons had been appointed to the Commission on an interim basis;
Judge R Bosielo (Chairperson)
Gen B Holomisa
Mr R A Ismail
Mr P Groenewald
Ms H Mgabadeli
Prof R Christie
Dr A Mokgokong
Gen L Moloi
Prof D Swartz
Q: A journalist asked what the role of trade unions would be under the new dispensation in light of the Constitutional Court ruling which stated that soldiers were allowed to be part of some collective bargaining body.
A: The Minister referred to her budget speech wherein she had indicated that the soldiers needed a different dispensation that would deal with the unique issues of the security environment in which they operated. The Commission was separate and would be distant from the Public Service Commission. The unions would have no role unless the Commission recommended their involvement.
Q: A journalist noted that COSATU had expressed concern that there was no representation from labour on the Commission.
A: The Minister replied that she had no idea where COSATU got the names from because they were only being released now and had been approved of by the President that morning. Government wanted to establish a new dispensation that would ensure that the conditions of employment of soldiers were improved.
Q: A journalist asked whether labour should be represented on the Commission, given that would be dealing with labour issues.
A: The Minister replied that the Commission would determine the parameters in the same manner as the Public Service Commission determined labour relations. The Commission might want to consult with COSATU when it discusses labour relations issues. Newspapers always showed the deplorable state of the facilities in the defence force. The Commission was established to deal with those conditions. This was not a COSATU meeting; it was a briefing on defence issues.
Q: A journalist noted that the ANC had stated that they want the process of de-unionising soldiers to begin and clearly there was a link between this and the establishment of the Commission. How are you going to de-unionise the soldiers when there was a constitutional court ruling allowing them to be part of unions. They have already said that they would not co-operate with the Commission unless they were consulted.
A: The Minister responded that the ANC was a political organisation. It was free to discuss matters. The ANC statement had said that it would like the process of de-unionising soldiers to begin and secondly they supported the Commission. These were two different things. The Minister reminded the media that she had promised the establishment of the Commission in her budget vote speech. It had nothing to do with the union. And it had nothing to do with the ANC statement. The ANC statement came after reviewing the events of the last weeks. Consulting the unions remained a responsibility of the Commission. The terms of reference of the Commission were to consult the soldiers through the proper processes of the defence force. They would ensure that every soldier’s views was understood and heard.
Q: A journalist noted that in her statement, the Minister had mentioned that work had begun on amendments to the Defence Act. What was the brief to the legal drafters? Which aspects of the Act would be changed?
A: The Minister relied that her Department was consulting a number of people, which included law advisors and the Portfolio Committee on Defence. The main aim was to ensure that the National Defence Act created a provision for the formation of the National Defence Commission and that it gave the Department the space to operate outside the Public Service Commission.
Q: A journalist asked the Minister when she would like to see the permanent Commission set up.
A: The Minister responded that after consultation with the Portfolio Committee on Defence, it was agreed that the amendments would be completed by December 2009. The Committee promised that they would work very hard to achieve that goal.
Q: A journalist asked if talk of a separate dispensation meant that soldiers could expect more than what they were currently earning.
A: The Minister explained that a separate dispensation did not suggest any figures to the salaries. As Minister of Intelligence, we worked very hard to ensure that we created a separate dispensation for Intelligence Services. It deals with all of the matters that the Public Service Commission deals with in relation to matters of public service, such as promotions, ranking and remunerations etc. We wanted to make sure that soldiers were treated differently from the public service. If it meant paying them better, this would be the case. The morale of the soldiers depended on how they are looked after.
Q: a journalist asked whether the Commission had been told what their priorities were or would they decide their own agenda?
A: The Minister replied that she would leave it up to the Commission to determine what their agenda should be. However, she added that she would be setting time frames fro the Commission.
Q: A journalist asked the Minister to share the suggestions that were made by Portfolio Committee on Defence regarding this matter.
A: The Minister replied that the Committee was concerned about the gender composition of the Commission. It also wanted the Commission to have a broad spectrum of political views.
The other recommendation was that every party would like to feel accommodated. So the Commission would be meeting the different parties in parliament.
Q: A journalist asked whether the amended Act would make provision for a professional association.
A: The Minister replied that this was already the case. This was a right that could not be taken away.
The media briefing was adjourned.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS, DR LINDIWE SISULU, MP
In recognition of the distinction between the rest of the Public Service and the Security and Intelligence Services, legislators have determined that the Labour Relations Act should not be applicable to the Defense Force, the National Intelligence Agency and the SA Secret Services. A basis in law was established and during my tenure as Minister of Intelligence, we crafted a separate dispensation for the Intelligence Services in appreciation and acknowledgement of the distinctive role they play in society. The Defense Force is not any different and Cabinet approved a new dispensation for them.
In addition, the Constitution enjoins us to develop the Defense Force into a disciplined, professional force precisely because of the role it plays as the last bastion to defend democracy and to protect our territorial sovereignty.
Armed with this knowledge and insight, I stated in my budget vote that one of the priorities of my tenure would be to review and improve the conditions of service of our soldiers. I have repeated this commitment in various platforms and audiences. The establishment of this Commission is the latest in a series of steps aimed at this objective.
In my budget vote I stated that:
“I want to assure the Defence Force staff that their conditions of service are a concern. We are seized with the matter and I would like to engage each one of them through the proper management structures to see how we can attend to these. We are acutely aware that the state of readiness of the SANDF depends primarily on the morale of our soldiers.
Having assessed our options, we are considering making a request for a separate dispensation for the Department of Defence that would allow us to creatively deal with our own needs and the specificities of our own unique security requirements.”
I am of the considered view that a National Defence Force Service Commission must be established immediately to assist me to deal with these vitally important issues so that our national security is never compromised. This Commission will function on an interim basis until a permanent commission is established through legislation.
In appointing this commission, I am mindful of the provisions of the Constitution and section 2 of the Defence Act, 2002, which stipulates:
The Minister and any organ of state defined in section 239 of the Constitution, as well as all members of the Defence Force and any auxiliary service and employees, must, in exercising any power or performing any duty in terms of this Act, have regard to the following:
(a) The formulation and execution of defence policy is subject to the authority of Parliament and the national executive.
(b) The primary object of the Defence Force is to defend and protect the Republic, its people and its territorial integrity.
(c) The Defence Force must perform its functions in accordance with the Constitution and international law regulating the use of force.
(d) The Defence Force must have a primarily defensive orientation and posture.
(e) No member of the Defence Force may obey a manifestly illegal order.
(f ) Neither the Defence Force nor its members may, in the performance of their functions, prejudice a political party interest that is legitimate in terms of the Constitution, or, in a partisan fashion, further any interest of a political party.
(g) The Defence Force must respect the fundamental rights and dignity of its members and of all persons.
I have discussed this matter with the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force, and the Cabinet which endorsed the proposal to establish a National Defence Force Service Commission. Draft legislation, which will establish the Commission, is being prepared.
As the creation of the National Defence Force Service Commission does not fall within the provisions of sub-section 2(a) of the Act, as it does not relate to the formulation and execution of defence policy which is subject to the authority of Parliament and the national executive, I have decided to consult the Portfolio Committee on Defence and to seeks its guidance and assistance on the creation of this Commission, in view of the national importance of this issue.
I briefed this Committee on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 on my plans and undertook to discuss various aspects of this matter, including the composition of, and the appointment of the members of the Commission with the Portfolio Committee on Monday 21 September 2009.
I also have very wide general powers to do all things necessary for the effective defence and protection of the Republic and its inhabitants in terms of section 80 of the Act. This includes ensuring that the concerns of members of the South African National Defence Force are addressed satisfactorily. This will enable them to fulfill their constitutional and legislative functions. These are to maintain national security which reflects the resolve of South Africans to live as equals and as a nation, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want, and to seek a better life.
I must, therefore, make regulations regarding the conditions of service of members of the Defence Force and labour relations between members and the State as their employer, including the resolution of disputes and the establishment of mechanisms necessary for the regulation of the said labour relations and the administration and management of such matters in terms of section 82.
Given the enormity of this task, I am of the view that I need the guidance and assistance of an impartial commission as well as parliament to assist me to formulate appropriate regulations, which will regulate these matters, until such time as the Defence Act is properly amended to make provision for a permanent National Defence Force Service Commission, which will be responsible for considering the issues which affect members of the Defence Force.
The formal appointment procedures of the members and the commission’s terms of reference are being finalised. The Commission will be able to commence its work immediately. Among other things, it will consider the following (courtesy of the Moseneke Commission)
- to investigate and make recommendations regarding remuneration and the conditions of service of members of the Defence Force
- to make recommendations to ensure that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in sections 195, 198 and 200 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Defence Act and any other applicable laws and regulations;
The appropriate remuneration, allowances and benefits to be paid to members of the armed forces will require the following:
· An analysis of the purpose, duties, responsibilities, powers and activities attached to the various positions in the armed forces
· The evaluation and grading of all posts
· An analysis of existing conditions of service, salaries, allowances and other benefits before and after tax deductions, pertaining to the Defence Force
· A comparison with compatible positions elsewhere
· The conversion of existing remuneration structure(s) or system(s) to a ‘total remuneration’ system/structure
· A comprehensive implementation plan and costing for the conversion to the “total remuneration” structure; and
The Commission must interact with the Council of Defence and brief it on its work from time to time. It must also interact with the soldiers through the due protocols of the Defense Force and other relevant role players and interested parties. This will enable the commission to make appropriate recommendations to the executive.
The Commission will function until the Defence Act has been amended to create a National Defence Force Service Commission, or such other time as I may decide.
The allowances to be paid to the members of the Commission will be determined by me in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
I thank the portfolio committee for its guidance, support and solidarity. I hope that all the role players will work together in a constructive way to address the concerns of members of the Defence Force. In this way we shall achieve our objective of restoring the integrity and reputation of the South African National Defence Force as well as instill public confidence in our armed forces which perform outstanding work both nationally and internationally and which fills us with pride. I also want to thank the members of the South African National Defence Force for their patience, support and solidarity. It is in the light of the above consideration that;
I, the undersigned Lindiwe N Sisulu, MP, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, do, hereby, announce that I have decided to appoint a National Defence Force Service Commission (NDFSC), on an interim basis, consisting of:
1. Judge R Bosielo Chairperson
2. Gen B Holomisa
3. Mr I Aboobaker
4. Mr P Groenewald
5. Ms H Mgabadeli
6. Prof R Christie
7. Dr A Mokgokong
8. Gen L Moloi
9. Bishop M Mpumlwana
10. Prof D Swartz
MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS.
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