Defence Bill: deliberations

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Defence and Military Veterans

22 May 2002
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

22 MAY 2002

Chairperson: Ms Thandi Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Defence Bill [B60-2001]

The Committee convened to finalise amendments to Chapters 1 to 8 of the Defence Bill. The submissions made at the public hearings the previous day were also briefly considered.

Ms Modise opened the meeting by summarising the issues that arose during public hearings on the Defence Bill, conducted the previous day. These issues included problems of labour relations as highlighted by the SA National Defence Union, and the matter of an Ombudsperson and whether to include this in this legislation or to pursue it elsewhere. She noted the suggestion of a "greening period" proposed by the SA Catholic Bishops Conference for personnel who leave the SANDF before they may join the Defence Secretariat, and the issues this raises of civilian authority over the military. In contrast, labour representatives had said that civilian controls compound their difficulties.

Ms Modise noted sequential numbering problems in the draft bills, and that this must be corrected. She referred to the definitions of what constitute orders or written commands, and the practical difficulties of written orders in the dark or rain in battle conditions. She referred to the debates on the deployment of police powers, and the military police. She noted the problems of the Reserve Forces highlighted by Lt Col Van der Westhuizen, and said that Mr Jonkielsohn would be tasked to set up meetings with the reserve forces, and to come up with solutions.

In her summary, Ms Modise made no mention of the objections to conscription lodged by several organisations.

Amendments to the Bill
Chapter One: Definitions
There were lengthy discussions of the definitions of "command" (para v) and "order" (para xx) before a decision to defer the matter. Principles: it was agreed to insert the word "fundamental" in 2 (g) ahead of the clause "rights and dignity."

Chapter Two
Ms Modise noted that the Committee accepted the argument of the SA Catholic Bishops Conference for the need for a "greening period" between employment in the SANDF and employment in the Defence Secretariat.

Mr Rathebe: Director, Legal Services, commented that this would create problems for people in the SANDF who might wish to apply for a job in the Secretariat.

General Mutawi agreed. He thought it was problematic, and discriminates against those who give up the privileges of rank to take a job in the Defence Secretariat.

Mr Ndlovu (IFP) asked is they are allowing the Secretariat to be 99% military with just one, nominally civilian Defence Secretary who may have spent a lifetime in the military before putting on a civilian jacket?

Ms Modise agreed that they need a greening period, but said she was also conscious that this is a policy matter that is not easily reflected in legislation.

Mr Hoon (Law adviser) was instructed, in conjunction with Mr Radebe, to strengthen the provisions for civilian control over the Secretariat.

Chapter Three
Lengthy discussions covered whether the Bill should be amended throughout to correct the terminology from South African Defence Force to the South African National Defence Force.

Mr Ndlovu asked whether he could refer to the Constitution, Chapter 11. It refers to Defence Force, not the "national" defence force.

It was agreed that there were inconsistencies of terminology in the legislation, and that these should be tidied-up.

Chapter Four
No changes were proposed.

Chapter Five
The issue of the SANDF and Military Police for policing functions prompted extensive concern. It was decided to await a memorandum from Mr Radebe, and to discuss the matter at a later meeting.

Chapter Six
It was agreed that military intelligence must conform to policies and legislation established for the National Intelligence Agency.

Chapter Seven
Concerns were expressed about the abilities of civilianised members of the Council to assert their authority over former senior colleagues of the SANDF. The composition of the Reserve Force Council also raised concerns.

Chapter Eigh
Due to objections by military representatives, the Committee decided to delete the provision for polygraph tests in Section 48 (2)(c).

The meeting was adjourned.


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