Minister of Defence on action plan to address 2008/09 audit qualifications; Department of Defence and Military Veterans on its 2009/10 Annual Report

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Defence and Military Veterans

25 October 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Booi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting was an opportunity for the Department of Defence and Military Veterans to present its Action Plan to address the audit qualifications for 2008/09 and its 2009/10 Annual Report. The Minister discussed the six qualifications uncovered by the Auditor-General and how the Department would be addressing these in the future. She gave the Committee her assurance that in future there would be no qualified audits - only unqualified ones. Operation Clean up was established to address the serious internal problems.

Questions were raised about the incident at the border where two people were killed and one critically injured; when Operation Clean up would be ramped up; what would be happening with the KPMG contract; the rumour that the Minister might be leaving the department; the asset register and land registration.

The letter written by Mr D Maynier from the Democratic Alliance on suggestions about whom should appear before the Committee was discussed. There was disagreement. Mr P Groenewald of the FF+ wanted the head of services to appear and was not happy with the fact that they were not present at the meeting. Mr Maynier suggested that hearings be held per department programme. The Secretary of Defence asserted that as accounting officer and as per legislation she was within her right to present the Annual Report.

The Department presented its Annual Report and explained its programmes with emphasis on challenges and corrective measures to be implemented. The appropriation statements were also explained per programme. The implementation of the Department of Defence Human Resource Strategy 2010 continued to guide human resource strategic direction in the Department, with specific reference to the ongoing rejuvenation of the SANDF’s human resources and the rightsizing of the Department’s human resource composition.

Meeting report

Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) wanted to know what the nationalities of the dead and the injured at the border incident.

The Minister replied that the incident happened on the Mozambiqan side of the border. Two people died, one was a South African and one was a Mozambiqan. One Mozambiqan was also critically injured as a result. It was a cross-border matter and the public would be informed as soon as possible.

Mr D Maynier (DA) had three questions: firstly, whether the Operation Clean Audit was going to be ramped up and if the contract of the firm assisting the Department with the clean-up would be renewed; secondly, on combat readiness, was there going to be a defence review; and thirdly, could the Minister confirm the rumour that she would be leaving the Department.

The Minister replied that the Auditor-General was very difficult to move because he was a numbers person. Logic did not appeal to him and he could not believe that the audit qualification moved from six to one. A clean audit was achievable and she was quite confident that any concerns that still existed would be overcome. At the end of the year the contract with KPMG would expire and the Department was not too concerned about this. The policies of the Department would be aligned with that of National Treasury (NT). The Minister expressed her confidence in her team that they would be able to deal with the matter. With regards to combat readiness, the first obstacle of a clean audit was over. There would be a review of the White Paper and it was being dealt with, with the help of NT. However, “we were a little behind because other issues have come up”. With regards to whether she would be leaving the Department she could not lay claim to that rumour.

Ms H Mgabadeli (ANC) commented that the Committee and the Department must work together to sort out the problems at the Department.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) wanted to know why the department registers land owned by the army as opposed to land owned by the Department of Public Works (DoPW).

The Minister replied that this matter would be dealt with in the new dispensation under her leadership. The asset register would also look different to the way it currently looks and the Department would be handling its own affairs and would get out of the binding clause it had with DoPW.

Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) commented that contracts should be synchronized with the end of the financial year.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and her team for their commitment to address the issues at hand.

Discussion of letter by Mr D Maynier (DA) on suggestion of who should appear before the Committee
The Chairperson allowed the Members to comment on the letter written by Mr D Maynier (DA).

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) commented that it was not acceptable that the heads of services were not present at the meeting to answer on certain aspects of annual report. He therefore supported the letter of Mr Maynier.

Mr D Maynier (DA) believed that in his understanding of the Constitution and Defence Act, for line programmes, the Chief of the South African Defence Force should be present at the meeting. There should also be a hearing per programme of the annual report so that one could drill down into details of, for example, the air defence programmes.

Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) felt that the letter should not be discussed and accepted at the meeting. The Secretary of Defence, Ms Mpumi Mpofu, was appointed to represent the Department to give reports of the Defence Force because it was not possible that everybody could be available.

Mr E Mlambo (ANC) felt that the Committee should visit the institution and see for themselves what was happening and ask questions of the relevant individuals.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) commented that when Mr Nelson Mandela was president the community only wanted to talk to him but he could not possibly talk to each and every community. He therefore had representatives from government that assisted him in addressing the issues with the community.

Mr Groenewald wanted an explanation that why for the last 15 years the head of services attended this meeting if we say that it was not necessary. The question was do we need the head of services and the head of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) present at the meeting. He felt that the matter was of extreme importance.

Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) commented that when rules do not exist, convention should guide us. He wanted to know what the convention was in the past years.

Ms Mpumi Mpofu, Secretary of Defence, Department of Defence and Military Veterans, replied that she was appointed in the position from 1 April 2010. She was also an accounting officer for the last 14 years in government. She had also been to Parliament to present annual reports in the past. The responsibility to present an annual report was prescribed in law in section 40 (e) and (f). She believed she was capable of presenting an annual report on her own without any assistance from anybody from the Department. To the Member of the DA, the Defence Act assigned the responsibility of presenting the annual report to the Secretary of Defence not the Chief of the SANDF and service heads.

The Chairperson commented that convention suggested that the individual/s not present could be invited to attend a future meeting to answer outstanding questions. He suggested that the Committee proceeded with the meeting.

Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) agreed with the Chairperson that the meeting should proceed but added that in the past as a matter of convention the Chief of the SANDF and the service chiefs attended the meeting.

Mr Groenewald commented that it was very sad that this was happening in the DoDMV but accepted what the law stipulated.

Mr D Maynier (DA) believed that the Secretary of Defence was the accounting officer but wanted a hearing per programme with the Secretary of Defence present and the Chief of SANDF and respective service chiefs so that one could drill down into each programme and understand the challenges faced by the Department.  

Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) commented that Mr Groenewald was not wasting his time by meeting with the Secretary of Defence. He felt that the Secretary of Defence explained herself properly but if the Committee was not satisfied with the answers, the Committee could ask for further clarification. The Secretary of Defence and her staff were quite competent to answer the questions.

Briefing by the Department on its Annual Report 2009/10
The issue of performance information would be dealt with first followed by financial information on 27 October. Ms Mpofu gave the entire presentation and started the presentation by explaining the appropriation statements which could be seen on pages 189 to 218 in the Annual Report 2009/10. Page 91 to 94 of the Annual Report showed tables on expenditure per programme and also showed employment and vacancies per programme. The greatest challenge across the Department was that of acting appointments and change of leadership. The challenges faced in policy were as a result of inadequate knowledge in the research capacity. A research unit would be established to address this weakness. Corrective actions would be taken by also establishing an internal audit unit. The mandate of the DoDMV was derived primarily from section 200 (2) of the Constitution.

▪ The first programme of the the DoDMV was Defence Administration: the primary objective of this programme was to facilitate the overall management of the activities of the DoDMV through policy development and monitoring, provision of strategic direction and organizing the DoDMV in terms of its structure and force design to achieve its set defence objectives. The main outputs of the Defence Administration programme were the ministerial and departmental direction, defence policy advice, strategic direction, corporate planning and reporting.
▪ The second programme was Landward Defence: it provided prepared and supported landward defence capabilities for the protection of South Africa. In the year under review, the South African Army (SA Army) fulfilled all its internal and external commitments, notwithstanding the fact that it was overstretched, especially in the infantry, engineer and support capabilities. Despite complex challenges and limited resources, the SA Army provided combat-ready forces and supported landward operations as were required. The SA Army remained committed to the achievement of its constitutional obligations.
▪ The third programme was Air Defence: it provided prepared and supported air defence capabilities for the defence and protection of South Africa. The Air Force was, to a large extent, still able to execute its mandate and achieve the required combat readiness levels despite the various challenges faced during the FY 2009/10. Without adequate levels of funding being provided, the Air Force would not be able to meet its mandate in terms of defence or its support of Government initiatives in the medium and longer term. The unwanted reality was that portions of aircraft fleets may have to be placed in long term storage, and certain capabilities, units or bases may have to be closed down.
▪ Programme four was Maritime Defence: it provided prepared and supported maritime defence capabilities for the defence and protection of South Africa. The FY 2009/10 was a successful but demanding year that saw the SA Navy meet most of its commitments. The SA Navy had, for most of the financial year, concentrated its efforts on eliminating the backlog of maintenance, reconfigured its technical training process so as to accelerate the qualification of technical personnel and, through concerted self-help projects.
▪ Programme five was Military Health Support: it provided prepared and supported health capabilities and services for the defence and protection of South Africa. During the FY 2009/10, the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) achieved most of the outputs, performance indicators and targets as set in the strategic plan, and also addressed the performance gaps that impacted on service delivery and the force readiness of the SANDF during the previous reporting period. The vision of the SAMHS to establish a healthy military community remained unchanged. The SAMHS was committed to health service delivery in the DoDMV and to be of assistance to other government departments.
▪ Programme six was Defence Intelligence: it provided defence intelligence and counter-intelligence capability. The Defence Intelligence division had retained its position as a major intelligence provider in South Africa. The Division continued to ensure adherence to its intelligence mandate of conducting intelligence on foreign military forces and their intentions. Defence Intelligence remained a key role player in the South African Government’s efforts to stabilize Africa and bring peace to the continent through international liaison and cooperation with other intelligence organizations, both within and outside the borders of the RSA.
▪ Programme seven was General Support: it provided general support capabilities and services to the Department. The General Support programme was divided into six separate subprogrammes: Joint Logistic Services, Command and Management Services, Military Police, Technology Development, Departmental Support, and British Peace Support and Training (BPST) Team.
▪ The eighth programme was Force Employment: it provided and employed defence capabilities, including an operational capability, to successfully conduct all operations and joint, interdepartmental and multinational (JIM) military exercises. During the FY 2009/10 the Joint Operations Division focused on enhancing and maintaining comprehensive defence capabilities, promoting peace, stability and security in the region and on the continent and supporting the people of South Africa. The SANDF would continue to defend the RSA’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity.

During the FY 2009/10, the implementation of the Department of Defence Human Resource Strategy 2010 continued to guide human resource strategic direction in the Department, with specific reference to the ongoing rejuvenation of the SANDF’s human resources and the rightsizing of the Department’s human resource composition. Figures and tables on the organizational structure and human resource management of the DoDMV could be seen on pages 87 to 115 of the Annual Report. The DoDMV Defence Diplomacy Report could be seen in Appendix A on page 116 of the Annual Report; foreign aid assistance to the DoDMV could be seen in Appendix B on page 120 of the Annual Report; criminality in the DoDMV could be seen in Appendix C on page 123 of the Annual Report; risks and mitigating factors in the DoDMV could be seen in Appendix D on page 125 of the Annual Report; and new services/outputs scaled up and /or services/outputs scaled down or suspended could be seen in Appendix E on page 133 of the Annual Report.     

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for its presentation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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