Committee Report on Department of Defence and Military Veterans Strategic Plan 2013

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Defence and Military Veterans

22 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Motimele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider the draft Committee Report (the report) on the budget vote of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. Representatives of the Department of Defence were at the meeting and commented from time to time on the draft. They noted that the budget was reflected for both departments as one vote, and the department of Military Veterans would thereafter receive a transfer from the Department of Defence. Members raised questions for clarity on the landward defence force capability and noted that a separate briefing had been arranged on this point so that it was not necessary to debate it fully now. They also questioned the necessity for including points around Denel, maritime security, and the increases in budget, which were insignificant. It was noted that this Committee should urge a budget review. Members questioned the amounts and the statements in relation to peacekeeping commitments in the Central African Republic and clarity on the Memorandum of Understanding referred to. The Committee would need clarity on the status of the MOU, the troops, equipment, and amounts to be spent, and whether the Demilitarisation, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme was still effective in CAR. Members asked for inclusion of points about the port of Durban, the need to deal with programmes, if necessary in camera rather than merely noting that the Committee could not deal with them in the Report, and were asked by the Department to delete references to memorials and training, which were yet to happen. The Department also asked for correction of figures for healthcare services, the deletion of a sentence about partnerships with private sector companies, and the calculations for mortality, changing the description to note that the Department would continue to provide for deceased military veterans’ families. The Committee asked for border safeguarding and Service Level Agreements around border fences to be included, and noted that some of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies had to do with figures provided by National Treasury. Many other typographical and figure corrections were needed. It was agreed that the necessary corrections would be made and these were to be circulated finally to the Committee before the Report was published. The DA and COPE noted that they had still to take the matter to their caucus, but the DA had previously noted an objection and suggested that the defence budget had to be increased.

Meeting report

Committee’s Report on Budget Vote 22: Consideration.
The Chairperson asked Members to go through the draft Committee Report (the Report) on the budget vote of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (the Department), to consider whether all points and amendments proposed in a previous meeting had been correctly captured, and in particular to look at the recommendations.

Ms P Daniels (ANC) wanted to know why the Report had said that the landward defence capability was not part of the strategic defence package, when the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and the Annual Report (AR) of 2011/12 stated that landward capability was part of the strategic defence package, but at that stage problem had been prioritisation. The Department had told the Committee that it had taken money allocated elsewhere and prioritised it for other matters for which there had not previously been a budget.

She also noted that the country’s maritime strategy had been integrated into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) security strategy, and asked whether those strategies, now mentioned in the Report, had been tabled before the Committee in any of the previous meetings.

Finally, Ms Daniels noted that there was no mention in the Report of the effect of Denel, when in fact that had been discussed in a cluster meeting at an earlier date.

Mr D Maynier (DA) said that the strategic defence packages did not include the landward forces, and therefore the Report did in fact have the correct wording.

The Chairperson said it did not matter in any event, because the Committee was scheduling a briefing about the strategies of the SADC and the maritime body of the country. He suggested that Members leave that point aside and check the rest of the draft.

Ms Daniels said she was a bit confused with the language on the overview of the 2013/14 budget allocation of the Department. She asked whether the Committee was saying the budget would not be increased, whether it was expecting it to be increased, or whether it was reflecting the recommendations made earlier.

The Chairperson asked where Ms Daniels was reading from, and she directed him to the page and questioned what it meant, because this seemed to be referring to increases.

Mr S Esau (COPE) said that Ms Daniels was correct in relation to what the Committee had discussed, but that had referred to a future Defence Review, where there would be substantial and fundamental changes to the budget amount, but that aspect was not finalised, because at the moment the DoD was acting in terms of the 1998 Defence Review. The projections were made, and the Committee knew that in 2013 the Department, in real terms, was due to receive a 0.58% increase, which was quite insignificant. The Committee had to push the idea of a budget review, so that a serious budget increase would happen. The figures reflected the current situation, and that was probably what the Committee would have to contend with.

Mr Maynier noted that the overview of the 2013/14 budget was essentially a “cut and paste” from the National Treasury’s (NT) Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE).

Ms N Mabedla (ANC) noted an error on the figures, under the statement ‘funds originally intended for the payment of contractors would be directed to fund peacekeeping commitments in the Central African Republic (CAR); R200 million would be spent towards that purpose.’

Ms Daniels added that not only was there an error in relation to the figure, but the statement appeared to suggest that the Committee was pre-empting that in fact that that money would be redirected to the peacekeeping mission in the CAR. She wanted to know whether there was an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to guide the country in future, or whether the report was speaking to the MoU that had been signed in 2012.

Mr Esau said that the projection for the CAR was R1.2 billion according to the National Treasury (NT) calculations, but because of the change in situation and the withdrawal of the troops, and the sending of other troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he thought there had been a change. There was a need to update the matter for this Committee. He said that the Committee needed to know what exactly was the status, both in relation to the MOU and the status of the troops currently within the area, as well as details of equipment, and how much was to be spent. He also needed to know whether the Demilitarisation, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme was still effective in CAR.

The Chairperson noted that point. She asked Members to continue through the draft.

A Representative from the Department of Defence (DoD) read out from the draft and commented that DoD had its own allocation, although the vote was passed with both the DoD and Military Veterans figures included. The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) would receive its budget by way of a transfer from the DoD.

Mr Esau indicated that there needed to be a correction on the MTEF figure, which was reflected as R1.46 billion instead of R1.3 billion. The figures needed changing in both the budget and APP.

Ms Daniels said she remembered that the Committee had spoken of the National Ports Authority being given the responsibility to run the Durban port, even though the Navy was present there. However, the draft recommendations contained nothing on that point although the Committee had asked for something to be included.

Mr Esau pointed out typing errors in the draft

Ms Daniels said that simply because certain programmes and activities were described as confidential did not mean that the Committee could not deal with them in the Report. This Committee had the right to call meetings in camera, to get full information on those programmes, and to be able to follow up that the DoD was following up on the programmes and commitments.

Mr Esau asked if a specific line that he had noted was supposed to read “maritime” or “military” health support.

The Chairperson replied that it was supposed to be military health support.

Ms Daniels called for a clarification on two lines that were causing her confusion.

The Chairperson clarified that Ms Daniels appeared to be reading from a different draft, and the situation was corrected.

The DoD representative commented that the title needed to be changed, to correct the typographical error in the date, as well as some other typing errors that were pointed out.

The representative clarified an earlier question of Mr Esau that the R1.3 billion was a figure over the whole Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), not a single financial year.

Mr Esau asked why the author of the draft appeared to know more that the Committee, asking where then the figures came from as that was mentioned neither in the ENE nor the APP.

The Departmental representative responded that some figures, on the draft, were incorrect, and corrected the figures for housing and counselling.

Mr Maynier asked if the Report, prior to final tabling, could be checked thoroughly as far as the figures were concerned.

The Chairperson agreed that this would be done.

The Departmental representative recommended that the point around erection of seven memorials and training of 75 000 personnel be deleted, as it not had occurred yet. It was correctly captured later on in the document, as something that still remained to be done.

Ms Daniels pointed that next to the figure of R60 million there was a punctuation error.

The Department’s representative corrected the Report figure, noting that the figure for healthcare services was incorrect. The socio-economic support services programme was a force programme, according to the Departmental establishment, as approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

Mr Esau asked for certainty for a figure of 10 000.

The Department’s representative noted that this figure related to the 2013 year only.

Mr Esau interjected that he understood that, but questioned whether it would be 39 000 over the whole MTEF.

The Department’s representative clarified that the heading indicated this figure was for 2013/14.

The Department’s representative suggested that the sentence: ‘the Department would not partner with any private sector companies and that it did not envisage any heritage projects for the coming financial year’ should be deleted.

Ms Daniels said she was struggling to understand how the DoD& MV could determine how many people would die in the future, as one statement appeared to suggest.

The Department’s representative responded that two sources of information were being used to calculate mortality rates; the health information systems of the Department of Health, and the military health services data and statistics, which informed how the Department was doing projections.

The Chairperson said the Committee would do a follow up on that issue.

The Departmental representative suggested that, to assist Ms Daniels with the query, perhaps the wording of ‘approximately 50’ should be used.

Mr Esau said that he remembered a discussion on the two-page amendment document relating to the Appendix when it was suggested that the Department would be deleting that statement altogether and not including any indicator or target for the number of people likely to pass away.

The Department’s representative then suggested that perhaps the document should simply state that the Department would continue providing support to families of military veterans as and when the need arose.

Mr Esau thought that had been written on the document originally.

Mr Esau raised a point about the sensitivity of the security measures on Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR) facilities, that the Committee had all agreed on.

Ms Daniels said that she did not see anything, in relation to border safeguarding, speaking to fencing even though the Committee had talked to that point.

Mr Esau said that on that specific point, there was a need to look again at the Service Level Agreements (SLA) with the Department that was actually responsible for the fencing.

Ms Daniels pointed out other grammatical and spelling errors.

The Departmental representative noted that, in the first paragraph, there should be a reference to ‘identified certain inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the 2013…’. In the last line, there was a reference to  ‘the Committee would now be able to measure the Department’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) success in achieving objectives and targets, and for which they should be properly held accountable’. That should relate only to the areas where there were inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and not all the areas. There had been some points raised by the Department, and it was effecting the changes.

Ms Daniels said that she differed on that point. The Department must be held accountable for everything because it had an overall mandate of administration of the Department. The Committee must oversee all activities of the Department.

Mr Esau said that he thought the inaccuracies and inconsistencies referred not only related to the APP. There was also not a proper financial plan with all the details in it, and this was partially the responsibility of the NT.

Ms Mabedla commented that there was an omission from the Report of the fact that the Committee had mandated the board to speed up the process of appointing a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for ARMSCOR.

Mr Esau moved on to the section dealing with regulations. There was an issue of all the additions which were on the APP, which spoke to the legislative instruments necessary to effect regulations. Policy and frameworks had been raised as matters needed to be addressed urgently through regulations

Ms Daniels again pointed out technical amendments.

Mr Esau mentioned that a Chief Executive Officer had been appointed for the Castle Control Board, which the Committee appreciated to assist in the proper running of the entity.

Ms Daniels and Ms Mabedla noted further technical corrections.

Mr Maynier asked whether that at some point the Chairperson would want the Committee to adopt the Report.

The Departmental representative noted that the delegation here today was only from the Department of Defence. However, the comment was later withdrawn, as that point had been noted in the Report.

Ms Daniels agreed that the separation between the two departments had been correctly captured.

Mr J Maake (ANC) wanted a clarification to whether the reference to the Secretary of Defence with the words ‘during his interaction’ was meant to refer to the office or the term.

The Chairperson noted that there were no further correction. He noted that the Committee Secretary must now effect all the amendments to the Report, which he would then circulate to all Members before it was finally considered as ready for publication. He noted that the figures would be verified.

The majority of Members voted to adopt the Report, with the amendments.

The Chairperson noted that the DA had asked for its objection to be recorded. This party had made out an argument that the defence budget should be increased, yet at the same time was in support of the current defence budget.

Mr M Nhanha (COPE) said he could not pronounce finally on the matter until he had spoken to his party caucus on the following day.

Mr Esau also noted that the debate whether to approve the budget would be held in the party caucus, and the final decision would be stated in the House.

The meeting was adjourned.


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