The Acting Secretary of Defence briefed the Committee on the mandate, structure, planning cycle, policy and legislation of the Department. Other Departmental officials then provided extensive briefings on the Department’s planning Cycle, reporting timelines and accountability, the function of the quarterly reports and strategic business plans, and the budgetary process. The Department also outlined what legislative issues were being worked upon at the moment. Members questioned the timelines, when the Strategic Plan would be completed, when quarterly repots could be presented, and the process that had to be followed prior to submitting those reports to the Committee. They further questioned the role and structure of the Secretariat for Defence and Chief of the National Defence Force, and how this compared to other countries’ systems, whether the system was flexible enough to deal with change of policies, such as that of inclusion of military veterans. A specific question was asked as to why the Chief of Defence Intelligence had left the Department. The issue of the section to be established for military veterans was examined, and questions were asked about the sub-programmes, particularly those for religious services. Questions were posed on the defence commitment, how the programmes were structured, why Audit Services had been moved to the Defence Secretariat, how many members were deployed on peace keeping missions, Members then moved on to whether the Department was ready to deal with the various issues allocated to specific dates on the programme. There was an issue over the State of Readiness Report and an outstanding report from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). It was clarified that the Department would only be able to brief the Committee on the state of readiness after briefing the Minister. Members noted that if the NCACC was not ready to report, then it must explain the matter, but could not dictate the Committee programme. Some changes were agreed upon to the programme.
Briefing by the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.
Mr Tsepe Motumi, Acting Secretary of Defence, briefed the Committee on the mandate, structure, planning cycle, policy and legislation of the Department of Defence (DOD), in accordance with the attached document.
Ms Nandi Ntselobe, Director: Strategy and Planning Department of Defence and Military Veterans briefed the Committee on the Timeline and Planning Framework of the Department (see attached document).
Mr Antonie Visser, Chief Director: Department of Defence and Military Veterans explained the function of the Quarterly reports and strategic business plans of the Department, and how they were linked to performance agreements.
Mr Banie Engelbrecht, Acting Chief Director: Policy, Strategy and Planning explained accountability of the Department in terms of the departmental timelines. In terms of accountability the documents were part of the budgetary process, and there were two specific contributions that the Department made. The first was when the Department submitted its Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE), where specific inputs were provided to the Appropriation Bill. These were re-tabled in Parliament and, according to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), this should be done before 1 April to approve the budget for government as a whole. The second contribution was that during October the Department also had to submit its input to the Adjustment Appropriation Bill, which had to be re-tabled in Parliament during November, and which specifically addressed changes made to the budget baselines of national departments, provincial department and local government.
Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) asked for clarification on the abbreviations mentioned in the report.
Ms Ntselobe explained that 'Ministers' WS' was the Minister's Work Session which gave substance to what came out of the Budget Speech and the State of the Nation Address, and also gave direction as to what should happen in the Department. Following the Minister's Work Session, the Accounting Officer convened the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DOD) Work Session, which served to give substance to what the Minister had indicated. Following this, the Defence Secretariat, established in terms of Section 204 of the Constitution and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), established in terms of Section 224(1) of the Interim Constitution, would be used to interpret the Accounting Officer's direction. The planning and budgeting process led to the basis for the development of Level 2 plans, as outlined in the document. These plans were received in April, as planning and budgeting happened In October, and were technically evaluated in May or June. After the technical evaluation process, the expectation was that they would be sent back to the Department for consolidation in November, so that the strategic planning process could commence. However, in August the Department had made preparations for its Programme Budgetary Evaluation Committee, which was referred to in the document as the DPBEC. The abbreviation “AG” referred to the Auditor-General, “NT” to National Treasury, and “CDCC” was the Communication Unit of the Department.
A Parliamentary Researcher asked about the timelines mentioned in the document, and by when the Strategic Plan would be completed.
Mr Visser said that the Department's recommendation was that the Strategic Plan should be a closed issue. The Strategic Plan must be completed before being tabled in Parliament. Work on the Strategic Business Plan normally started by 1 April, which guided the work of the Department for the rest of the year.
The Parliamentary Researcher said that a timeline needed to be established, and this required a date. She asked whether the Department would be able to present the Strategic Business Plan by the first week of April, and when the quarterly reports would be presented.
Mr Visser said that the Strategic Business Plan and the Annual Report were statutory obligations. The Quarterly report was originally meant to be an internal management document. The Department, if asked to present on the Quarterly Report, could do so only about three weeks after the end of the quarter. Once the document was compiled, it had to go the Council of the Defence Secretariat, and the Military Command Council, and would thereafter be presented to the Minister. The Minister first had to be briefed before the matter came to the Portfolio Committee. Mr Visser said it would be very difficult to produce the Quarterly Report to the Committee within a six week period.
Mr D Maynier (DA) asked whether in a system where the Constitution required civilian supremacy, the Defence Secretariat should not be moved above the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the structure, as both were level 1 entities. Mr Maynier asked further how this structure compared with other structures in democracies around the world.
Mr Motumi replied that the structure and offices of the Secretary for Defence and of the Chief of the National Defence Force performed separate and distinct functions, but were complementary. The legislation made clear that the Secretary for Defence was the head of the Department, and the Accounting Officer and the Chief of the National Defence Force were the Commanders. This emphasis was often lost.
Mr Maynier asked if the Committee would receive quarterly reports six weeks after the completion of the quarterly period, as indicated.
Mr Maynier also asked if this system lent itself to flexibility and to a rapid change of policies, for instance as in the case of military veterans, which was a new priority for the government and required a re-alignment and or a re-adjustment of policies.
Mr Motumi replied that when new priorities emerged, such as the establishment of a Military Veterans entity and additional functions, the budgetary adjustments would happen once the Budget Speech had been promulgated and the Strategic Plan had been presented. It was here that the opportunity presented itself to table the policy priorities before the Medium Term Expenditure Committee Hearings, so that they would be taken account of. When the period of the adoption of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) took place, there would also be a call from the National Treasury for policy re-prioritisation. National Treasury would then assess what had been tabled. It would then formally become the Department's responsibility to establish an entity to deal with military veterans. The Department had not as yet worked out the structure, size and shape of this entity.
Mr Maynier asked why the Chief of Defence Intelligence had left the Department.
Mr Motumi replied that the Chief of Defence Intelligence had left the service of the Department and there was someone appointed to act in his position.
Mr C Gololo (ANC) asked where issues of Procurement and Acquisition fitted into the organogram.
Mr Gololo asked where the newly established section for Military Veterans would be located in the new different macro-organisational design.
Mr Motumi replied that an entity already existed for Military Veterans. There used to be a small Directorate of Military Veterans' Affairs, which had been in existence for some time, and which took its mandate from the Military Veterans Affairs Act of 1999. That would form the nucleus for the successor entity. The Minister had set up a Task Team on Military Veterans, to look at implementation of a decision to set up a Military Veterans entity. The Task Team was currently headed by the Deputy Minister of Defence, and would appear before the Portfolio Committee to report on this initiative.
Mr Gololo said that the Portfolio Committee for Defence (PCD) acronym used by the Department should be changed.
Mr Motumi replied that the acronym could be changed.
The Chairperson said that the Department should change its wording to suit the Portfolio Committee.
Mr Maynier said that he was aware that the Defence Intelligence Chief had left the Department, but reiterated that he wanted to know why he had left.
The Chairperson requested that that matter be left for now, and it could be put on the agenda again after all the presentations.
Mr L Tolo (COPE) asked why the framework of the Planning Cycle was only done once per year, if there were also quarterly reports.
Ms T Gumede, Chief Director: Policy, Strategy and Planning, Department of Defence and Military Veterans, said that the Department did not only make one submission per year, as it also submitted quarterly reports, but that this followed a different route. The Department would give feedback to the Presidency as well as submit quarterly reports. At the end of the year the Department would then give an Annual Report to the Presidency. With regard to the Strategic Plan, Ms Gumede said that three quarterly reports were submitted to Parliament, and the last one compiled was the Annual Report.
Mr Motumi added that the Department was currently working on the most urgent issues, which included the Defence Amendment Bill and the Geneva Conventions Bill. The Department was still working on the Military Discipline Bill, but more inputs were required internally in order to finalise this document. The Department had registered the intent earlier, and this was basically an amendment to the Military Discipline Supplementary Measures Bill.
Mr Motumi added that the general Regulations in terms of Section 82 of the Defence Amendment Bill, and the Regulations to The National Conventions Arms Control Amendment Act were also being worked on. The Defence Strategy 2030 was an issue that the Department intended to put before the Portfolio Committee later in the year. The outputs, in terms of the mandates of the Department, would cover the Defence commitments, which included ongoing operations, for which the Department had made a financial plan.
Mr Maynier asked what the status would be in relation to this Committee and the Defence Strategy document, given that the Committee was now being presented with an already-agreed upon Defence Strategy that had been signed off by Cabinet. Mr Maynier asked if substantial public participation was anticipated in the development of that strategy.
The Chairperson said that all processes had to come to and be tabled in Parliament first, then the debate would be opened on the matter by Parliament.
Mr Tolo asked how the department dealt with different religions.
Mr Motumi said that the sub-programme Religious Services was the responsibility of the Chaplain General.
The Chairperson asked what was implied by the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Act.
Mr Motumi said that in terms of the defence commitment, there were joint inter-departmental and multi-national exercises that were required during the year, to prepare for operations. Mr Motumi explained that Air Defence capabilities and Maritime Defence capabilities were also part of the SANDF outputs. Military Health was a support capability. Defence Diplomacy included the deployment of Defence Attaches. Participation in the defence and security structures of the United Nations, the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) were also key to the outputs of the Department. The Department was also involved in the provision of defence-related policy and ministerial advice, and was responsible for providing cryptographic security services to the government.
Mr Visser added that a further unit was the Centre for Procurement Services, which was sized directly into the Admissions programme and had recently been decentralised. This Centre now fell under the Chief of Staff Logistics, because it was actually responsible for the execution of procurement services.
Mr Engelbrecht brought to the attention of the members that the Administration programme was prescribed by the National Treasury, and all government departments had this as Programme 1 of their budgets. The National Treasury had also now instituted a new initiative, which the Department was due to discuss with National Treasury in the next week, and which would re-examine the composition of the programmes, in terms of the broader guidelines for departments. The intention was to review three distinct groups of programmes. The first one was the necessity of Administration, the second one was enablement, and the third one was the actual execution of programmes or service delivery. All programmes that related to service delivery directly to the public would then be grouped into one, so that when the National Treasury consolidated all the expenditure, it would be able to see the supporting side and the information side, which would assist in the management and decision-making process.
Mr Gololo asked what the Chaplain and religious services were for.
Mr Motumi said that all religions were recognised in the army. The Department has religious advisory boards for all faiths, and these served to advise the Chaplain-General, who then advised the Department. Mr Motume added that there was actually a process to ensure that those religions that formed part of the religious Advisory Boards would obtain assistance and advice on the appointment of Chaplains in the National Defence Force.
Rev Tolo said that in the Judges, Chapter 7, of the Bible, it was stated that the army was the institution of God.
The Chairperson said that the Committee now had a sense of how the Department operated.
He said that there had been a question whether the Department was ready to deal with the 'State of Readiness Briefings' as outlined in the Portfolio Committee programme document. The Chairperson made reference to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on Defence. The two Committees had been in existence together for years, but this arrangement and questions would be dealt with by the JSC on Defence.
Mr Motumi asked if the Chairperson wanted him to speak to the Programme after 5 and 6 August 2009.
The Chairperson asked Mr Motume if he was ready.
Mr Motume said that the Department was not ready right now, but could prepare on this before the end of August. He would be able to deal with some of the other items listed, but would be unable to deal specifically with items listed for 11 and 12 August.
The Chairperson asked the Members for comment upon the Department's lack of readiness to deal with the item 'State of Readiness Briefings' in accordance with the programme.
Mr F Lorimer (DA) asked why Audit Services was moved from the Inspector General to the Defence Secretariat, in the administrative arrangements of the Department.
Mr Motume replied that Inspection Services existed traditionally in the old forces, and as an entity provided Commanders in the Armed Forces with the tools to be able to assess whether structures were fulfilling their duties, in terms of operations, equipment, and expenditure. Over time the Audit Services entity was developed in the South African National Defence Force. When the Secretariat for Defence was established, it became the function of the Secretary of Defence, as part of the oversight on the Defence Force. A decision was taken to move it away from Inspection Services, so that the Commander of the Defence Force would retain Inspection Services as his or her tool to hold Commanders accountable. The Accounting Officer needed to be satisfied that those resources allocated to the Chief of the National Defence Force were accounted for. Mr Motume said that the Department would in due course report to the Committee regarding the development and separation of the Audit function in the Department of Defence.
Rev Tolo asked how many persons in the armed forces were participating in the defence and security structures of the United Nations, African Union or SADC.
Mr Motume replied that he could safely say that 3000 members of the SANDF were deployed in peace support operations. The majority of the members were with the UN missions, mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Sudan. There was also a large AU contingent in Burundi, which was going to come to an end quite soon.
The Chairperson said that the question regarding the organogram was very important as it dealt with accountability of the Department. This matter had created tensions over the past years, but the Committee had been engaging on this matter, and the Secretary of Defence had acquired the capacity to better deal with this situation. This was a policy issue and the Secretary of Defence was the person who remained in charge.
The Chairperson said that the issue of Military Veterans was proceeding very slowly, as the Department was not offering much for military veterans. He asked where this was currently placed, in organogram of the Department. He further noted that the Department needed to have a more sensible approach, and needed to tell the Committee exactly what it wanted to do.
The Chairperson noted that the Department had stated that it was not ready to report on the matters scheduled for 11, 12 and 19 August. He commented that this was an important issue, as the Constitution required this Committee to find answers and be able to tell the public that its Defence Force would be able to defend the country, yet the Department advised that it was unable to deal with the matter.
Mr Maynier said that the Committee should urgently meet with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) to get to bottom of the matter.
Mr Maynier commented that there were several important components missing with regard to the 'State of Readiness Briefing'. The first was the State of Readiness of Defence Intelligence, the second was the State of Readiness of Defence Reserves, and the third was the State of Readiness of the Joint Operations Division. He asked Mr Motume, to clarify the scope of the brief. He said that he could not understand why the DOD were not prepared to give such a briefing. He also asked if the Minister had been briefed on the 'State of Readiness Briefings'.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had already alerted the public to the fact that it had not received the report on the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, and that there was not consistent reporting on this matter. The Committee Secretariat was in contact with the NCACC, to alert them to the Committee's concerns about accounting to public. This issue was on the agenda for 2 September, so that a way could be found to organise the agenda.
Mr Motume said that the Minister was currently receiving the briefing on the 'State of Readiness', which was the reason why the Department, at this stage, was not ready to deliver the briefing. When the Minister had completed that process, it would be duly communicated to this Committee.
Mr Motume said that the Department could deal with the item on the agenda for 19 August, which was related to the Defence Industry, but it should be noted that that item had to be dealt with in concert with the industry.
The Chairperson asked the Department to specify which presentations were ready.
Mr Motume confirmed that the matters set for 19 and 21 August could be presented to the Committee. The Department was also ready to make the presentations scheduled for 27 August, and 2, 9, 11, 16 and 23 September.
The Chairperson asked if the item on Military Veterans could be heard on 11August and if the item on the National Conventional Arms Control could be heard on 12 August.
Mr Motume said that the Department would prefer to start with items at the end of the programme. The quarterly reports and Armscor presentations could be dealt with earlier, as Armscor was due to present its Strategic Plan on 16 August. Other briefings as indicated could also be dealt with earlier. The Department would follow the Committee’s lead on the NCACC.
The Chairperson said the NCACC matter would be put on the agenda for a meeting on 11 August.
Ms S Nelabeni (ANC Whip) said that she did not think the Department would be ready for a meeting on that date.
The Chairperson said that the Armscor and Defence industry topics would be removed, and the Committee would communicate with the Department. The Minister would be required to attend a meeting with the Committee.
Mr Maynier pointed out that the Department could not determine the agenda for this Committee. Members of the Committee could agree that the situation at NCACC was serious, but the NCACC must appear whether it was ready or not.
Ms Nelabeni supported this view.
The Chairperson noted that the items originally scheduled for 16 and 23 August would be brought forward to 11 and 12 August.
Mr Motume asked that the Committee could direct its request to the Chairperson of the NCACC, and not to the Minister of Defence.
The Chairperson explained that the Chairperson of the NCACC, Jeff Radebe, had indicated that he was prepared to discuss the matter as soon as a meeting was arranged.
Ms Mgabadeli (Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee) thanked the Department for an excellent presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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