The Committee was briefed by the Defence Review Committee on the Defence Review 2014. The Minister of Defence was present at the meeting and stated that the Defence Review recognised the mismatch between what was expected from the SANDF, and the capacity resources allocated to it. The persistent disconnect between Defence mandate, government expectations and resource allocation, had eroded defence capabilities to the point where the Defence force was unable to fully deliver its constitutional responsibility to defend and protect South Africa. For this financial year and looking forward to the next 20 years, all measures had to be taken to ensure that the Defence Force was not handicapped in any way in the execution of its mandate. The Review recommended that there was an endeavour to achieve five key milestones. The Review also directed the country to develop a coherent policy on the defence industry which had a vital role to play in re-equipping the Defence Force and sustaining its capability. The mandate for the next five years was to act fast to restore the minimum capability required to safeguard South Africa, protect its maritime resources and trade routes, conduct peace missions and humanitarian intervention. This agreement has now been presented to this Minister for her signature. The Minister committed to providing a comprehensive directive that formally sets out the key performance areas of the Ministry, the Defence Secretariat and the Defence Force for the next five years and the forthcoming Medium -Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The Department has established a Defence Review Implementation Team, whose responsibility it was to discuss the various methodology options and develop a plan for implementation. Once Parliament has finalised this process, an enterprise programme of office would be established immediately to review the target implementation of the report as well as the various milestones and timeframes.
The Defence Review Committee presented the Defence Review 2014 to the Committee. The Defence Review was tabled on 13 March 2014 and consisted of 15 Chapters. Chapter 9 was pivotal in that it dealt with the Implementation of the Defence Review, not as an event, but as a process that had to be integrated with government, and the capability of government. Chapter 11 was pivotal as - it discussed in depth how the development of our future leaders were seen and the relationship of that development programme to the broader South Africa in general.
The Goals of the Defence Force as outlined were:
- Goal 1: Defend and Protect South Africa;
- Goal 2: Safeguard South Africa;
- Goal 3: Promote peace and security; and
- Goal 4: Developmental and other ordered tasks.
The solutions to insecurity were vested in a combination of:
- Strategic partnerships that promoted peace and stability;
- Rooting democracy under-pinned by strong ethical governance;
- Economic advancement for African prosperity and
- Strengthening multi-lateral mechanisms.
The adoption of the Defence Review recommendations including the provision of supportive and appropriate funding mechanisms is urgently required to stabilise, restore and ensure the defence capability of South Africa.
Members asked when the Committee could expect to receive the Military Strategy, which was inclusive of the Force Design structure establishment table Capability Strategy and Acquisition Plan being developed by the Chief of the Defence Force, and the long term Defence Force Development Plan. Members asked if the Minister had met with the National Treasury; had the Treasury reviewed the Defence Review document and the estimated Budget, has the Budget been approved, was the Defence Review implementable and affordable? Members questioned what the key acquisitions would be over the four milestones, what the anticipated costs of those acquisitions would be and whether in developing those costs the life cycle cost of the equipment was taken into consideration. Members asked if there was a strategy to deal with border management and the situation of migration of foreign communities.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and noted that there were only two items on the agenda. One item would require only Members; the other item would require the Minister and the Department. The meeting would start with an input from the Minister which was an introductory briefing on the Defence Review by the Defence Review Committee and the Secretary for Defence (SecDef). A workshop had already been held on the policy document. The reason that it was being reviewed at Committee level, was because it was of national interest. This policy document impacted on foreign policy and the national security of the country. The Minister would take the meeting through the key issues.
Minister of Defence on Defence Review 2014
Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence, kick-started the presentation with opening remarks and the need to finalise the Defence Review 2014. The convening of this meeting was a further demonstration of Parliament’s own commitment to this important work. Despite Parliament being a platform for contestation and political point scoring, it was certain that Members from across the political divide would give due bona fide attention to the Defence Review, given the far reaching consequences for the country if this was not done. In this regard all Members of the Committee, particularly the Opposition benches, were thanked for the general enthusiasm that has been expressed publicly and the appreciation for the need to do justice for the consideration of the Defence Review and its finalisation. The Chairpersons were asked that the Defence Committee be allowed to present in a more inclusive forum to allow for a common point of departure on the process. Discussion on the future of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as initiated by the release of the Report of the Defence Review, occupied an important place in the public discourse of the nation. This process in Parliament was an essential and key component of this public discourse. On 19 March 2014, Cabinet approved the Defence Review Committee Report which recommended a comprehensive defence policy blue print for the next 20 to 30 years. The Defence Review 2014 was the second one to review the work of the SANDF based on the practical function of the military in this democracy. The role of the SANDF at home in the southern African region and the rest of the continent has increased to an extent not envisaged by the 1996 White Paper and the Defence Review that followed two years later. Currently there were two Battalions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Darfur region in Sudan. Defence commitments far exceeded what was anticipated in the aftermath of the advent of democracy. South Africa was expected to play a leading role in the stabilisation of the Continent. It was important to have a stable continent with accruing benefits for shared food security, development security and the building of economic relations with rest of the Continent.
The Defence Review recognised the mismatch between what was expected from the SANDF, and the capacity resources allocated to it. The persistent disconnect between Defence mandate, government expectations and resource allocation, has eroded defence capabilities to the point where the Defence force was unable to fully deliver its constitutional responsibility to defend and protect South Africa and its people and further could not even support the current modest level of ambition. Therefore there was an urgent need to replace old equipment and the critical gaps in air, maritime and landward facilities. The lack of munitions, spares and insufficient troops for commitments has resulted in inter alia long rotation cycles that impact negatively on morale and training. In addition resources must be allocated for force rejuvenation, training and for the repair and maintenance of current equipment and facilities. These and other shortcomings had to be addressed to prevent a steady degradation of the Defence Force and the disastrous consequences that would follow. The question crucially posed by the Defence Review was what was needed from the Defence Force at home, in the region and the rest of the continent. Once that question was definitely answered, adequate resources had to be allocated to enable it execute its mandate with the requisite effectiveness and efficiency. The feedback from the public hearings on the Defence Review, and in the Cabinet discussion has been helpful- the option of scaling down our commitments was not accepted.
Despite the constraints mentioned, the Defence Force has performed admirably well over the past twenty years. For the current financial year and looking forward to the next 20 years, all measures had to be taken to ensure that the Defence Force was not handicapped in any way in the execution of its mandate. This was precisely what the Defence Review was intended to achieve. Its report made the assumption that the military would continue to have four main responsibilities, these were: 1) to defend and protect the Republic of South Africa, 2) to safeguard its borders and infrastructure; 3) to promote peace and security in the Continent; and 4) to perform developmental and other tasks assigned to it. And on the basis of this assumption the Review recommended that there was an endeavour to achieve five key milestones:
1) To arrest the decline of the SANDF;
2) To rebalance the Force by re-prioritising;
3) To ensure capacity mixed;
4) To develop capacity to meet future challenges and
5) To build the strength to deal with a limited war should the need arise.
Those were the five critical milestones identified in the review. To achieve the above, the Review Committee recommended that a crisis response capability be developed by (1) expanding special forces with all the support elements needed like air and shore capability; (2) a border protection capability be developed with required land, air sea resources like patrol vessels, aircraft and shore sensors; (3) forces be re-equipped for external peace keeping and enforcement mission; and (4) medium and heavy forces be modernised to bolster defence capability. There were costs attached to these milestones, but the Review could only give rough estimates. It was up to the leadership of the SANDF to develop a Force Design that would allow for more precise costing.
In general, at 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) current funding levels were inadequate and below the international norms of about 2% for a developing country at peace. In fact, comparatively speaking it could be argued that although South Africa was a developing country at peace, its responsibilities on the Continent, justified defence expenditure slightly above 2% of the GDP. This however was not the central issue in the Review, and issues about resources required more practical considerations by the whole of Government. In this regard consideration should be made given to the requirements of the SANDF, including the redetermination of office force structures, the ability to restructure at maximum value from its current allocation and expenditure patterns, as well as the development of a future funding model. The country was still a long way from a 2% allocation as a share of the country’s GDP- this would have to be justified through the planning and implementation instruments that were being put in place.
The review made recommendations in other areas of the SANDF’s work, such as the development of military leaders, recruitment, education, training, discipline, procurement and communication. There was a lot that could be done to improve performance in these areas at low cost. The Review also directed the country to develop a coherent policy on the defence industry which had a vital role to play in re-equipping the Defence Force and sustaining its capability. The defence industry has enormous potential to contribute to economic growth, job creation, technological innovation, scientific research and skills development. It needed however to have a sustainable and long term role as supplier to the SANDF. In order to stimulate this potential, Government as a whole needed to assist the defence industry to penetrate export markets, to create more jobs at home and generate foreign revenue.
The review identified quick wins which could be done at minimal cost or no cost at all. These related mainly to the restructuring of the three arms of service namely the army, the navy, the air force and improvements at the medical institution, commitments to urgent acquisition and management of the naval dockyard. A start has been made to address some of these issues. The report adopted by Cabinet which was earlier presented to Parliament, was a comprehensive one. The Defence Review Committee consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including ordinary members of communities throughout the country. This engagement will continue, including engaging with the House during the next phase of policy formulation, legislation and implementation. What was important was that the country builds a national consensus on defence policy given its critical importance. In improving the review, Cabinet directed the following: That the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans ensured that the military strategy, force design, force structure, capability, strategy and acquisition plan, and funding trajectory were translated into an extended long term defence development programme which was aligned and integrated into government planning cycle and that the South African Review 2014 be submitted to Parliament.
Earlier in the year, during the Budget Vote debate, the Minister had indicated that this programmatic directive of the Cabinet constituted the broad programmatic thrust of the Ministry and its two departments. There was no choice but to respond with urgency and put plans in place to arrest the decline. Five years was on average was the amount of time it would take to develop a sustainable defence capability. Although the SANDF was still able to maintain the operational presence, if it did not start now the decline would worsen. The mandate for the next five years was to act fast to restore the minimum capability required to safeguard South Africa, protect its maritime resources and trade routes, conduct peace missions and humanitarian intervention. Over the next five years as part of the first milestone the Ministry would therefore focus on the following strategic areas:
1) Ensuring strategic leadership and succession plan for the defence programme over the next 20 years;
2) Developing the funding mechanism and ensure adequate resourcing of the defence function;
3) Direct the renewal of defence personnel to ensure that the personal profile was able to meet the future defence obligation;
4) Direct the renewal of the defence organisation to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness; and 5) Reviewing the defence capability strategy and direct acquisition in line with the four milestones of the Defence Review, direct the development of the defence strategy and the technology agenda innovation plan in support of the defence development programme, as well as the integration of the defence industry into the mainstream industrial policy.
Without pre-empting the outcome of the Parliamentary process, the Ministry would ensure that in the current financial year, both the Centre of Defence and the Chief of the SANDF laid the necessary ground work towards the attainment of immediate milestones in line with the performance agreement to be signed with the President. This agreement has now been presented to this Minister for her signature last week. The Minister committed to providing a comprehensive directive that formally sets out the key performance areas of the Ministry, the Defence Secretariat and the Defence Force for the next five years and the forthcoming Medium -Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The Department has established a Defence Review Implementation Team, whose responsibility it was to discuss the various methodology options and develop a plan for implementation. Once Parliament has finalised this process, an enterprise programme of office would be established immediately to review the target implementation of the report as well as the various milestones and timeframes. In closing, the Minister urged Members to consider this a matter of utmost importance, considering the amount of time already lost whilst the Joint Standing Committee on Defence was being established.
Mr Sam Gulube, Secretary for Defence, noted that the Defence Force Review team had received the invitation and would stick to the objectives as stated in the programme. This programme has stated that the presentation should include the special elements of Chapter Four of the Defence Review which dealt with Civil Oversight of the military and the proposed Force Design. However for this to be able to be properly reflected, as indicated by the Minister, an overview of the whole Defence Review would be provided. He handed over the presentation to General Gibbs of the South African National Defence Force.
South African Defence Review 2014
General John Gibbs, South African National Defence Force, referred to the State of the Nation Address that was delivered by the President in June 2014 in which he indicated that South Africa would continue to support regional and continental processes to respond to and resolve crises, promote peace and security, strengthen regional integration, significantly increase intra-African trade and champion sustainable development in Africa. The President also spoke specifically about the resourcing of the Defence Force and the Defence mandate in line with the recently concluded Defence Review. The Defence Review was tabled on 13 March 2014 and consisted of 15 Chapters.
Chapter 9 was pivotal in that it dealt with the Implementation of the Defence Review, not as an event, but as a process that had to be integrated with government, and the capability of government. It had to be integrated with South Africa, and the capability of South Africa to support the defence development trajectory. Chapter 11 was pivotal as well - it discussed in depth how the development of our future leaders were seen and the relationship of that development programme to the broader South Africa in general. One of the things recognised was the importance of the military and the development of leadership and how that ultimately filtered back into society as members left the organisation and pursued other careers. The Leadership Development programme could make a huge contribution to the developmental agenda of South Africa. As part of the Defence Review developmental process, the Defence Review Committee conducted a pre-study of 44 international defence reviews and a detailed study of 10 reviews done in the last four years. The content of more than 76 written submissions was consolidated and informed the recommendations that were made. In terms of national sovereignty, the first vital interest was to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity; including air space, islands, territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf claims and cyber domain. The second vital interest was to ensure the security of strategic resources such as minerals energy and water; including the safe and secure delivery, processing and distribution thereof. The third vital interest was to ensure the freedom to trade, including the free use of land, air and sea trade routes and the safety and security of trade and transport hubs. The fourth vital interest was to work with partner states to achieve the peace, security and stability in the region, creating conditions for economic growth and development and the expansion of markets in Africa.
Defence budget allocation was 1, 1% of GDP. Serious challenges with regard to the balance of the budget remained. Focus on the effort put into Defence Diplomacy and the ability to influence the strategic agenda on the multi- lateral fora that the country was represented on firstly then on strategic partners that have been identified through foreign policy as being key to South Africa’s future.
The prevention and resolution of conflict on the Continent would be enhanced through:
- The coordinated and integrated application of the political, diplomatic, economic, military and other capabilities of the State; and
- Expanded defence diplomacy efforts would be focussed on optimum participation in SADC, AU and UN structures and the fostering of long-standing relationships with key African states and other strategic partners.
Defence command and control would be network enabled and supported by comprehensive situational awareness capability at all levels. The evidenced and potentially volatile security environment dictated an increasing reliance on Special Forces indicating an expansion of current Special Force capability. It was clear that the world in which South Africa existed was becoming increasingly volatile and unstable and solutions to insecurity were vested in a combination of:
- Strategic partnerships that promoted peace and stability;
- Rooting democracy under-pinned by strong ethical governance;
- Economic advancement for African prosperity and
- Strengthening multi-lateral mechanisms.
The adoption of the Defence Review recommendations including the provision of supportive and appropriate funding mechanisms were urgently required to stabilise, restore and ensure the defence capability of South Africa.
Mr D Maynier (DA) said that he shared the Minister’s view that the Defence Review was of utmost importance and asked when the Committee could expect to receive the Military Strategy, which was inclusive of the Force Design Structure Establishment Table, Capability Strategy and Acquisition Plan being developed by the Chief of the Defence Force, and the long term Defence Force Development Plan.
The Minister replied that a team had been established to develop a plan which would then result in having a team that would deal with issues of implementation. This was why there had been much concern over the establishment of the Joint Standing Committee of Defence because that appointment has had a ripple effect on a whole range of issues. On the side of Defence, things could not be taken for granted before Parliament has actually approved the Policy.
Mr Maynier said Parliament could not expect the Committee to approve a document which was not affordable so if the Defence Review was implementable it had to be affordable. It appeared that the Defence Review Committee had met the National Treasury on one occasion to discuss the functions of the Accounting Officer, not the Budget. Has the Minister met with the National Treasury; has the Treasury reviewed the Defence Review document; has Treasury reviewed the estimated Budget; has the Budget been approved and therefore was the Defence Review implementable and affordable?
The Minister replied that upon assumption of office and at her first interaction with the team her first question was: ‘What was the cost of this Defence Review? The team had indicated that it was outside their mandate to cost the Defence Review. She then directed the team to do a rough estimation, which they have done, albeit it was never part of the mandate. It would create a problem if the team had interacted with the National Treasury before Parliament has approved the Defence Review. The National Treasury was aware of the Defence Review; it had gone through Cabinet who has discussed the content of the Report. However a meaningful discussion with the National Treasury could only be had after Parliament had approved the Review. This Team could present a plan to the Committee so that it had an idea of the kind of plan being developed.
Mr Maynier asked what the key acquisitions would be over the four milestones, what the anticipated costs of those acquisitions would be and whether in developing those costs the life cycle cost of the equipment was taken into consideration. This was a major weakness of the 1998 Defence Review.
The Minister replied that the Defence Review should not be seen as a way of increasing the Budget of the Defence Force. Milestone 1 was implementable by getting or acquiring more financial resources. Milestone 1 actually directed the Defence Force to ensure that the status quo was maintained. So what was there would not be removed or replaced. This status quo could be maintained while preparations were being made for the implementation of Milestone 2.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) thanked the team and asked if there was a strategy to deal with border management and the situation of migration of foreign communities.
The Minister replied that the answer to the previous question applied to Border Management as well. The Defence Force had 13 companies. It was unable to have more at the moment, but in terms of what it had been directed to do by the team who compiled the report, this number could not go down- if anything it should increase. This did not mean that Milestone 1 directed the Department to be stagnant. If some elements of Milestone 1 needed improvement, this could be done.
The Chairperson said that there was an understanding that this was not the last engagement on the issue of the Review. More engagements were due to take place around this. He urged Members to wait for the programme. When the programme was adopted it was flexible and had to be aligned with the urgency related to the Review.
The meeting was adjourned.
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