Defence Secretariat & SA Defence Force 2014 Strategic Plan

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Defence and Military Veterans

09 July 2014
Chairperson: Mr M Motimele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Secretary of Defence presented the Department of Defence (DoD) 2014/15 budget allocation and performance plan. Strategic priorities included job creation, revitalisation of reserves, restructuring and support of defence security and enhancement of DoD’s works capability. The major challenge the DoD was facing was under-funding, typified by 77 606 funded posts, while the current strength was 78 178 against a requirement of 81 184.  The DoD was also under-funded in disaster management, which is currently allocated by the National Treasury to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, despite the DoD being involved in disaster relief operations internally and abroad. Despite these challenges, he assured the Committee that the DoD would ensure that the Republic of South Africa was defended and protected, at the same time ensuring enhanced civil control of defence. The DoD would also conduct its ordered commitments in accordance with government policy and strategy, by ensuring defence compliance with the regulatory framework

A Member argued that the contention that the DoD was under-funded did not hold water because of the DoD surplus balance in Special Defence Account, while expenditure on non-core items such as advertising and the acquisition of defence equipment -- especially Project Hoefyster -- was not aligned to a threat to the country’s security.  Another Member wanted clarification on the existence of SANDF members in the Central African Republic.   Strong reservations were expressed about the army’s Ombud, which is under-funded and seriously under-capacitated.  There was also concern over indicators being changed in the annual performance plan.

In response, the Secretary of Defence said money left in the Special Defence Account was not a surplus, but a committed roll over. Expenditure on advertising was part of South Africa’s celebration of 20 years of democracy, in which the SANDF had played a significant role.

The SANDF did not have any deployment in CAR. There was equipment left when the army withdrew to DRC, and it was working with various state departments, such as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and State Security Agency, as well as other agencies, to try to recover equipment left behind.  From time to time, the DoD engages with authorities in the CAR about any other bilateral arrangements that need to continue between South Africa and the CAR. He reiterated that there was no official deployment, and although he may visit there to assess its previous operation, this does not mean there is any official deployment on behalf of the SANDF.

Meeting report

Budget allocation and Annual Performance Plan of Defence Secretariat and SA Defence Force
Dr Sam Gulube, Secretary of Defence, South African Defence Force (SANDF) said the Department of Defence was in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan (2015-2018) in support of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) that will be tabled in Parliament in February 2015.

He said that in 2008, members of the SANDF had started guarding the country’s borders.  Members of the SANDF were also involved in maritime security along the Mozambican coast, as much of South Africa’s trading goods came via sea transport. The SANDF was in the process of enhancing its landward defence capabilities equipment.

Strategic plans for SANDF include job creation, revitalisation of reserves, restructuring and support of defence security, and enhancing DoD works capability

The DoD will contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) by providing disaster relief, supporting the combating of maritime piracy along the East Coast of Africa and strengthening the national research and development capacity.

The DoD was experiencing baseline reduction in Treasury allocations.  However, it will be able to fund other projects with money coming from projects nearing completion.  The DoD wanted to upgrade its intelligence image capability. It had 77 606 funded posts, and a current strength of 78 178 against a requirement of 81 184. This reduced funding was limiting military skills development.  Currently, DoD skills development system was able to cater for 4 272 personnel, against a target of 10 000 annually. The DoD will transform its force by increasing the recruitment of women to about 50% while the number of women in military development courses will be increased. The DoD was the process of reconfiguring its force number allocations system. It was strengthening its accounting and auditing practices. It was combating corruption and fraud through an anti-corruption hotline, holding corruption and fraud awareness workshops, as well as closing corruption gaps in its procurement processes.

Dr Gulube assured the Committee that the DoD will ensure that the Republic of South Africa was defended and protected, at the same time ensuring enhanced civil control of defence. The DoD will conduct ordered commitments in accordance with government policy and strategy by ensuring defence compliance with the regulatory framework. The major challenge DoD was facing was under-funding of disaster management, which is currently allocated to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.  DoD took note of the previous Committee’s recommendations, and had developed mechanisms to rectify the issues raised.

Mr D Maynier (DA) congratulated the Minister of Defence and the Secretary of Defence for tabling the South African Defence Policy Review document. The review document provides a small window of opportunity to review what the Defence Review calls the critical state of decline of the Defence force in South Africa.

Mr Maynier said argued that the argument that DoD was under-funded did not hold water.  The Secretary of Defence had said there was a R3.6 billion surplus in the Special Defence Account (SDA), while there was high expenditure on non-core items, such as advertising.  Expenditure on advertising has increased from R11.9 million to R52.3 million. He wanted the Secretary of Defence to agree if he associated with his concerns on expenditure on non-core items, and what mechanisms had been put in place to curtail expenditure.

He also queried the Defence acquisition of Hoefyster, an infantry combat vehicle that will cost R15 billion in the next six to seven years.  It appeared as if Defence acquisition was not aligned to the threat.  Even if the vehicle was to be used in external operations, South Africa did not have the capacity to transport that vehicle to Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Even if capacity were available, there would no capacity to service the vehicle. He asked what threat the Hoefyster vehicle was designed to counter and why the project was approved before Defence Review, which is supposed to determine the acquisition priorities of the SANDF.

He said the SANDF was spending R21.98 billion on personnel, which is approximately 51.9% of the Defence budget. His backroom calculations proved that the SANDF was spending an additional R4 billion on personnel, yet the Department can not fund operations or capital acquisition. He asked the Secretary of Defence about what mechanisms were in place to curtail Defence Force expenditure on personnel, and the downsizing of personnel which are surplus to the needs of the Defence Force.

Mr S Esau (DA) said there was a contradiction in the staff numbers shown in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and the report received in November 2013, which referred to a 76 548 funded establishment, compared to the APP with 77 606 funded posts.  He wanted to know if the additional members were appointed between November 2013 and July 2014.

Mr Esau asked for the progress made with regards to exit mechanisms and whether there was a political will to act, because the army was too big according to a Treasury report, which had spoken about 66 000.  Going forward, he said the SANDF must fill only critical positions while something was being done about those not required, to have a Force that was properly funded.

He was concerned about the R299 million alleged not to have been reported to National Treasury. He asked how legal claims affected the performance of the Department, and if the National Treasury knew about this while it require additional funding

He said that in the Central African Republic (CAR), R150 million had been transferred to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  In the budget, it is stated that South Africa was to continue to provide training in the CAR. He knew from the Bangui Report that there were 18 soldiers remaining behind in CAR, and that it was for certain reasons that South Africa does not want to withdraw fully. He asked how many soldiers were in the CAR, the budget allocated to CAR, and if the full budget and equipment were transferred to the DRC.   He reiterated that the report and the APP were in contradiction with each other.

He asked if any further research had been done at the army base in Oudtshoorn.

Mr Esau said grievance procedures had been a serious concern within the Force and the previous Committee had urged the resolution of grievances internally. However, the military Ombud was under-funded and seriously constrained to deal with issues, as it has a staff complement of only 44 out of an expected 89, meaning its performance was at 50%.  Above all, it also needed to deal with military veterans. There were serious problems when complaints were lodged against the SANDF and had to be investigated, when the structure put in place to deal with reported issues was unable to do its job fully.  He asked how the Ombud can be catered for, as there was no money to fund the vacant posts in the Ombud, and it would cause a problem for other structures to operate effectively should their budget be transferred to the Ombud.

Mr Esau had a problem with amendments made to previous indicators and targets in the APP. He said that this was unacceptable and the annual report needed to explain those changes. If changes were made, the Department should indicate the changes made and the reasons for them.

He wanted to know when the additional Defence attaches would open up, and which countries had been identified for Defence attaches.

An indicator which seemed “very foolish” was on the reserve forces -- 1.8 million hours, instead of indicating the number of reserve forces utilised in the Defence Force.

Mr D Gamede (ANC) wanted clarification on the budget shortfall in respect of the 2009 payment of soldiers.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked where in their budget the SANDF accessed money for disaster management operations.

Mr M Mncwango (IFP) congratulated the Department for combining the budget of the Defence Force and the Secretariat in the strategic plans, as having parallel plans did not make sense to him.  

He asked how the Department funds the current strength against the funded strength. He was also concerned that from time to time the military was involved in disaster management in South Africa and neighbouring countries, yet there was no funding for such operations.

Department’s Response
In response, Dr Gulube acknowledged challenges at the army’s training base in Outshoorn.

He said it was unfair to say the Defence argument that it was under-funded does not hold water due to the surplus in the Special Defence Account (SDA). It was not called a surplus, but a committed roll over. When he said the DoD had budgeted R15 billion for the Hoefyster Project, the Department must have roll-overs for the coming years. The whole planning around acquisition was such that the Department had to commit funds this year for the next year, otherwise in ten years the Department would not be able to cover the expenses on budgeted projects.

The Chairperson asked how the roll over appeared in the Auditor General’s report.

Dr Gulube said it appeared as a committed roll over, or as an uncommitted roll over. If it was uncommitted, then the Committee may question the management.  It was in accordance with the SDA Act. The day the SDA became nonexistent, then it would be non-compliant.

In terms of advertising expenditure, he would come back with full figures to the Committee. However, it needed to be recognised part of the programme of the government of the day was to celebrate 20 years of democracy. From time to time, it had been asked what budget had it allocated for the celebrations and activities it had to plan. As a result of the major role played by the SANDF in the defence of democracy, it was expected by Parliament that the Defence Force play a major role in the commemoration and informing the public what the Defence Force does.

On defence acquisition, he said it was aligned to the threat, but threats faced by the country were not static. They changed from time to time.   The Hoefyster would go a long way in peace keeping solutions. The DoD priority was to save the lives of its soldiers. Thus, whatever requirements soldiers had in peace keeping missions, the DoD ensures that it gives them the equipment and tools to protect their lives and missions. It was a strict requirement in peace keeping missions.

As the DoD, it gets its commands from the Commander in Chief, and recently the Commander in Chief has asked the DoD to define its capabilities, to be part of the Africa Capacity for Immediate Response (AFRIC). It was planning to conduct joint exercises with AFRIC, as part of the Southern African Development Community standby force and African Union standby force. The DoD task was to find ways of fulfilling these requirements.

While it may be questioned why the Hoefyster Project had been initiated before the Defence Review, it was imperative to note that the Defence Review is not the first policy document. Documents have come out from the first 1998 White Paper on Defence and Defence 2030 Document. There were also various internal documents of DoD, as well as the plan of DoD that requires it to be able to continue with various programmes.  Given the Defence Review, his major task as Secretary of Defence was on the implementation plan of the Defence Review, and whether the 2014/15 plan was aligned to the Defence Review. All of the projects, operations and 2014/15 APP were informed by policies as they existed at any given point in time, and would be adjusted as new policies were introduced.

Dr Gulube said the Portfolio Committee must give him more time to talk about human capacity within DoD, because it changes from time to time. The Defence Review talks in detail to human resource development and the required force structure and force design, and the Chief of Defence was involved in the process which will inform the requirements moving forward. 

On benchmarking, he still had difficulties because in 1998, the White Paper talked to downsizing because South Africa was a peaceful country -- at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours. However, immediately after that, the army was deployed to the borders and various peace keeping missions. While still there, the army was required to fight against maritime piracy along the East Coast. These threats existed as the Defence Review was being conceptualised. Downsizing the army is not required anymore, as it was in 1998. The DoD will discuss the Defence Review with the Committee and develop an implementation plan which will have a major impact on the way the Defence human resources will be structured.  In the next seven to ten days, he will come up with the status of human capacity within the SANDF as it changes from time to time.

On legal claims, it was required by the National Treasury establish a contingency for expected legal cases.  There is usually an average of 50 to 60 cases in court every month.  Some of them do not have substance, such as the issue of a warrant of arrest for the Secretary of Defence. If the DoD loses a case, and is required to pay a fine or full legal costs, it declares them to the National Treasury. Most of the cases come from Military Health Services, with complications arising from the medical care it renders to its clients, while others come from contracting issues and labour relations.

The SANDF does not have any deployment in CAR. There was equipment left when the army withdrew to DRC, and it was working with various state departments, such as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and State Security Agency, as well as other agencies, to try to recover equipment left behind.  From time to time, the DoD engages with authorities in the CAR about any other bilateral arrangements that need to continue between South Africa and the CAR. He reiterated that there was no official deployment, and although he may visit there to assess its previous operation, this does not mean there is any official deployment on behalf of the SANDF.

He agreed that indicators of previous years must not change, because they are cast in stone when presented to Parliament.

On drivers of compensation of employees, he fully agreed that in 2009/10, there was a ministerial directive for the improvement of conditions of service of members of the SANDF. Proper procedures were followed in terms of consulting with Cabinet as well as the National Treasury. Salaries increased significantly, but the Treasury did not fund the salary increments.

On disaster management, it was complex to plan. He had instructed budget managers to try and cover it within the deployment of forces budget, which often resulted in shortfalls. It would be easier to plan should Members of Parliament approve that disaster management be allocated to the DoD.

He agreed that combining the two strategic plans was the most important way.

On grievance procedures, Brigadier General Peter Seloane, Director Human Resource Strategy and Planning, SANDF, said exit mechanisms were addressed in the Defence Review.  The DoD had rolled out a comprehensive IT system that tracks a grievance until it is resolved.  If the grievance was not resolved, there must be an answer as to why it was not resolved within the expected time frame. On reserve forces call ups, he said the call ups had been escalating continuously. On human resource strength, he said it changes from time to time because of appointments and attrition.

On performance indicators, Mr Dumisani Dladla, Chief Director: Strategy and Planning, DoD, said that the Department keeps a register with a list of amendments to track how indicators change over time. The Treasury says that indicators must speak to the MTEF, service delivery agreements and the execution of the defence mandate. He assured the Committee that there will be stability in the performance indicators when the Defence Review is rolled out.

On flying hours, Major General CA Masters, Chief Director Air Policy and Planning, SANDF, said the mandate of the Chief of the Air Force was to provide prepared and supported forces. The flying hours must be seen in the context that the air force was responsible for air training and preparedness. However, flying hours could not be predicted accurately.

Mr Maynier wanted to know whether the Defence acquisition project included VIP aircraft, including a jet for President Jacob Zuma. And if there was such a project, he wanted to know the ceiling price.

Mr Maynier said on the night the Battle of Bangui One had begun, the Joint Operation Command had required air transport and there had been no aircraft available from the contracted service providers.  According to his own investigations and reading, there had been irregularity in awarding the tender to five service providers who provide aircraft transport to the DoD. He asked if the Secretary of Defence shared his concern, and whether an investigation had been conducted into the awarding of the tender. He assured the Secretary that four of the five companies did not have the capacity to provide aircraft services.

He said in Operation Corona and the deployment of soldiers to the borders, the Department makes reference to soldiers per sub-units, not companies deployed at the border. He said the DoD did this deliberately, because the sub-units deployed were greater than company strength. He asked the total number of soldiers per sub-unit deployed at the borders.

Mr Skosana asked from which slide Mr Maynier had raised the question on jet acquisition.

Mr Esau asked if the DoD was confident of fulfilling its missions, given that in 2013 it had cancelled four of its nine missions.

He said the South African border was porous, and people were stealing cars and driving through the borders. In the previous Committee, Members had suggested the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones as part of border security. He wanted a report on the use of drones as part of border security.

He said the APP had noted that consultants would be used for the effective maintenance of military vehicles. He asked about the role of the technical service department on the maintenance of military vehicles. He asked if they lacked competency or skills, or was it because the armoured vehicles were imported and needed special technicians from abroad to service them.

He said external missions meet external requirements, such as the United Nations. He asked if the Department applies internal rules to internal operations, and not only for external operations.

He asked if the Ministerial report on health had been finalised, or whether progress had been made by the ministerial task team.

He asked why there was a major increase in the Defence Intelligence budget on food.

The Chairperson said that as a result of time constraints, the DoD would respond in writing

The Chairperson said the Committee should be concerned about the SANDF’s capability to execute its constitutional mandate.  The Defence Review would help in defining areas for resourcing the Defence Force.

The meeting was adjourned.


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