Defence Budget Vote 19 Report: consideration & discussion

This premium content has been made freely available

Defence and Military Veterans

23 June 2009
Chairperson: Mr M Booi (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the report on Budget Vote 19 and recommended that several changes be made to the report. Members expressed concern about the state of the facilities managed by the South African National Defence Force. There was also general unhappiness that after 14 years, the Department of Defence had failed to develop structures to assist the integration of military veterans into mainstream society. The Committee discussed the long periods served by the peacekeeping force in conflict regions such as Burundi and the DRC. It also debated the issue of timeframes for the Task team and the Minister to respond to the Committee. Some Members of the Committee were disturbed by the fact that South African Armed Forces were ranked very low on the Continent regarding their state of readiness. Members felt that Denel and Armscor should to report to the Committee rather than the Public Enterprise Committee.

Meeting report

Mr D Maynier (DA) recalled that he was still waiting for a response to some of the questions that he had posed to the Secretary for Defence.

The Chairperson noted this and explained that the Minister and the Secretary of Defence were unavailable as both were in Lesotho at the moment.

Budget Vote 19 Report
Mr J Lorimer (DA) noted that a task team had been established to deal with the issue of military veterans but that it was not given a time frame to complete its work. He suggested that the Task Team be given 60 days to deal with the matter and to report to the Committee on their findings thereafter. He also wanted the definition of the word “military veterans” to be broadened to include the Cape Corps and other groupings.

The Chairperson replied that the Minister would come up with an inclusive definition of the term military veterans.

Ms A Dlodlo (ANC) suggested that the Committee consider the inadequacies of the Military Veterans Act whether it matched the prevailing expectations.

Mr L Mphahlele (ANC) said that the benefits envisaged in the Military Veterans Act should also include educational opportunities. He cited an example of the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who was granted an opportunity to pursue his studies at Oxford University after the Second World War. The former Minister of Housing, Mr Joe Slovo, did not go further than Standard Five yet Wits University allowed him to study for a degree. He said that the military veterans had a lot of prior learning experience in many fields that could be used as a starting point to further their careers. Age should not be used to exclude some of the younger former freedom fighters. The rich history and heroic battles that were fought by the veterans should be given necessary attention in places such as museums.

Mr C Gololo (ANC) mentioned that the law required that Ministers be given 100 days to deliver on certain tasks. He suggested that the Minister of Defence be given the same amount of time rather than 60 days.

The Chairperson reminded Members that Parliament was under pressure to deliver because of the promises made to the electorate. Ordinary people knew nothing about the 100 days timescale.

Mr Lorimer (ANC) said that the Committee should be strict about time because the Minister knew about the urgency of the issue. He then asked whether the Committee would initiate legislation regarding the issue of military veterans.

Mr L Diale (ANC) believed that the responsibility laid with the Minister to fast track the issue. The fact that there had been a 14 year delay to resolve the problem was tantamount to dishonouring those who were prepared to lay down their lives for the country.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) concurred with Mr Mphahlele’s remarks and suggested 90 days as a compromise.

Mr Dlodlo said that 100 days started from the day that the Minister was appointed to office.

Mr Mphahlele suggested that the Committee should go through the report page by page.

Mr Maynier proposed that the wording (in point 4.6 of the report) be changed to “The under utilisation of the SANDF members”.  In addition, he
felt that borderline security should be a subject on its own in the report. He further argued that the peacekeeping forces in places like the DRC were overstretched. Lastly, he stated that the South African Arms Industry should report to the Committee regularly.

Mr Mphahlele supported Mr Maynier’s proposed amendment. The existing wording implied that the SANDF needed an external threat in order to be in a state of readiness. According to Africa Confidential Magazine, South Africa ranked second last on the continental list regarding army state of readiness. Zimbabwe was ranked no 1.

Ms Dlodlo asked about the role of the Defence forces in guarding private assets. Parliament was the only body that could give a go ahead for the deployment of the SANDF to help the police force. Border Control was supposed to be the prerogative of the Army not the police force. The reserve force should be equipped with the necessary skills to help with disaster management.

Mr Ndlovu said that the police force was not equipped with human resources and the necessary equipment like vehicles to guard the borders of our country.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the Task Team should be given 60 days to finalise all matters.

Mr Gololo and Mr Ndlovu agreed that Denel should report to the Committee rather than the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprise.

The Chairperson concurred and said that the Committee could not continue to capacitate Denel while it reported to another Committee.

Mr Ndlovu asked for clarity on whether the peacekeeping forces were overstretched.

Mr Lorimer replied that international practice dictated that forces be rotated every 6 months to avoid fatigue. A General had informed the Member that most SANDF army vehicles in Burundi had broken down. That made it difficult for the force to do its work.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should look at the reasons which led to the Border Control Management Agency being entrusted with the duty of managing South African borders. He said that the National Convention Arms Control Commission (NCACC) should publish the annual report.

Mr Mphahlele recommended that all the vacant land that was owned by the defence force be properly audited so that it could be utilised properly.

The Chairperson added that all the former homelands (Transkei, Boputhatswana, Venda, and Ciskei) owned vast tracts of land that could be lying vacant.

Ms N Mabedla (ANC) urged the Committee to give attention to the infrastructure of the SANDF. The Military Hospital was in a state of disrepair and the Military Intelligence building was almost collapsing.

Mr Diale made an emotional plea to the Committee to speed up the process of improving the working conditions and facilities of the Armed Forces. He said that the Committee had been discussing these issues for the past 14 years while men and women who protected the country were neglected. He said that when he was a member of the liberation army, they would sleep in holes or in the open veld and eat grass for sustenance. The only thing that kept them going was an unwavering belief in the freedom for their country.

 The Chairperson assured Mr Diale that the fourth Parliament had a strong sense of urgency to deliver. He informed the Members that the Committee Secretary with Mr Maynier would compile a report with amendments that would be adopted on the following day.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: