Defence Review : Draft Committee Report adopted (objections from DA), Letters from President deferred


30 April 2015
Chairperson: Mr M Motimele (ANC), Mr E Mlambo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to adopt its Draft Report on the Defence Review. A DA Member had submitted a document, at a previous meeting, in which he set out 21 suggestions on the Defence Review, which had been circulated to and read by all Committee Members. Mr Maynier was given the chance to present that document, but he was stopped part-way through by the Chairperson, who indicated that it was not necessary for him to read out every recommendation, and he should proceed to his final recommendation on proposal 21. There were originally three suggestions as to how the Defence Review could be dealt with, but he was now proposing that the Committee propose to the Minister that the Defence Review be withdrawn. He maintained that it had not been properly costed, particularly in terms of defence acquisitions and right-sizing,  that the proposals were not affordable because of fiscal constraints, and there were probably errors in calculating the estimated costs of the Defence Strategic Trajectory, and failure to consult with National Treasury. He proposed that the Minister should commission an independent audit on cost estimations, and consult the National Treasury on the affordability of the Review, and then only table a revised Defence Review, along with a Military Strategy and long term Defence Development Plan, within six months. He also noted his concerns and asked the Committee to carefully consider the implications of downsizing, which would affect around 35 000 members of the Defence Force. He suggested that this recommendation, and each of the others preceding it, should be fully debated and that the Committee's final Report should contain a statement on each.

Members confirmed that they had read the proposals but did not agree with them, with the exception of one that had already been incorporated in the Report. They asserted that the points had been widely debated during a strategic planning session and that the Member had effectively lost his opportunity to be heard and to convince the Committee on these points by failing to attend that session. They suggested that the points were weak, and the Member had conceded that the initial documents and proposal were sound. They did not agree that a full costing was necessary at this stage, seeing it as merely delaying the adoption and progress of the Defence Review unnecessarily. They were of the view that the costing was necessary only when considering the legislation that would follow. Another opposition Member believed that the Public Finance Management Act imposed a duty on Members to ascertain the full financial implications at this stage, similar to what they did when considering budgets. Other Members held that since the Parliamentary Rules were not clear, Members had to guide themselves with coherent principles. They pointed to reports on spending, and the President's State of the Nation Address, which strongly suggested there would be funding. Members disputed whether there would be downsizing to the extent suggested. The Chairperson ruled that the opposition Member had made his point and there would not be detailed discussion of the other 20 proposals, and the Member asked that, for the record, it be confirmed that only one of his recommendations was deliberated upon (the Committee disagreed as to whether they were amendments or recommendations). He also asserted that his party, the DA, would be lodging a formal complaint about the proceedings, when the Report was adopted.

Members had received Letters from the President, and agreed that should a special meeting be needed in recess, this would be done. A DA Member noted that the Secretary of Defence had stated that piracy had been reduced, but it would not be moving to deploy troops to the West coast of Africa, and said the Committee should question why a full force was deployed. When discussing the programme, it was agreed that site visits would be discussed, and one Member suggested that the 

Meeting report

Defence Review 2014: Consideration of Draft Committee Report
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that at a previous meeting Mr D Maynier (DA) had submitted a document in which he made various suggestions on the Defence Review. The document was circulated and read by the Committee Members.

The Chairperson told Mr Maynier that the purpose of this meeting was not to amend the Defence Review, but to deal only with his suggestions and recommendations, so he requested that Mr Maynier commence his presentation and tell the Committee how he would like to see his proposals factored into the Draft Committee Report (the Report) on the Defence Review of 2014.

Mr D Maynier (DA) started by saying he would have appreciated advanced warning on how the Chairperson was intending to run the meeting, but would do the best he could.

The first question he presented to the Committee was a question of procedure. He said that it seemed the outcome of the Committee's deliberations was now a draft Report of the Committee. He questioned what form the Report should take. He said that the Parliamentary Rules were silent on how the Committees should deal with policy, and that created a dilemma, however it could be overcome because there were rules dealing with the format of the Report.

Mr Maynier summarised Rule 1.6.8, that said the Report should essentially set out recommendations (on the Defence Review) that were agreed to, as well as those not agreed to, and possibly reasons why they were not agreed to.

He had submitted his document to the Committee on 26 March, and had made 21 recommendations for changes to the Report.

His first recommendation was that the Defence Review should be amended by deleting any reference to any principle that the Defence Force should contribute to National Development, because South Africa was a…

The Chairperson interrupted at this point, saying that it was not necessary to read through the full document. It had been circulated and the amendments being proposed were known to Committee Members. He requested Mr Maynier to go straight to the recommendations after the 20 amendments.

Mr Maynier wanted to make it clear that he had made 20 recommendations in total. He would speak to the final recommendation.

The Chairperson said that he understood the document to contain 20 amendments and a recommendation at the end. He again, requested Mr Maynier to talk about the recommendation, because it was the most important component of the document.

Mr Maynier said he would move to the recommendation as requested. However, it wanted to make it quite clear that the document contained 20 recommendations, and he would like the Committee to consider all 20.

Mr Maynier did, however, then move to the recommendation 21, which spoke to the possible options. It set out three options as to how the Defence Review should be dealt with, and he said that he wanted to propose another option. He was recommending that the Committee propose to the Minister that the Defence Review be withdrawn, for the following reasons:
- The Joint Committee on Defence had an obligation to consider the financial implications of the Defence Review, but the Defence Strategic Trajectory had not been properly costed, in terms of the defence acquisitions and right sizing of the Defence Force
- The proposal in the Defence Review, and particularly the trajectory, was probably not affordable because of the fiscal constraints
- There were quite possibly errors in calculating the estimated cost of Defence Strategic Trajectory
- There had been a failure to consult the National Treasury.

Mr Maynier also recommended that the Minister commission an independent audit on cost estimations, and consult the National Treasury on the affordability of the Review. The Minister should then table a revised Defence Review, along with a Military Strategy and long term Defence Development Plan, within six months. Before tabling these, the Minister should ensure that the Defence Review, Military Strategic Plan and long term Defence Development Plan were properly costed and affordable.

He said that, despite the good work by the Committee and good proposals made, all indications were still that the Review as proposed was simply not affordable. He felt it was the constitutional duty of the Members to consider the financial implications and, should they believe the Review was not affordable, he urged that they seriously consider his recommendations.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on whether Mr Maynier wanted this to be put in the Committee's Report.

Mr Maynier felt that it was incumbent on the Committee not only to deal with this final recommendation, but in fact to deliberate fully on each of his 21 recommendations, and decide whether to support or oppose each. The Committee's final Report should contain a statement as to whether or not each of the recommendations was supported. This would present a fair reflection and would be in line with rule 1.6.8.

The Chairperson made it clear that the Committee was, today, dealing with the Committee Report. Anything that was being said would be regarded as a proposal as to what the Report should include.


Mr B Bongo (ANC) said this matter was a culmination of other activities that the Committee engaged in at its strategic planning session, which Mr Maynier had "not bothered" to attend, so that Mr Maynier came in only at a later stage to interact with the document. He said Mr Maynier started by supporting the Defence Review, but had raised some issues that were not relevant because he had little information from not attending the strategic planning session. Now it seemed that Mr Maynier wanted to withdraw the Review. He expressed the view that the remainder of the Committee would not be happy to withdraw this important document, which related to the future of the country. He suggested that whilst Mr Maynier could raise his concerns around affordability and other issues, he should not be calling for a withdrawal. Mr Bongo thought Mr Maynier’s issues were weak and pointed out that, by his own admission, he was accepting that the initial document and proposal were good. He said he had read the Committee Report, which was a fair reflection of all the meetings that the Committee had had, and that it was in order.

Mr T Motlashuping (ANC) said that it had been an ongoing process, consultations had been done and it had now reached a stage where the Committee had to take a stand on the matter. It was the Committee's responsibility to ensure that the Army and Defence Force were in a sustainable position and could defend citizens. He believed that it was important for this Committee to show that it cared for the men and women in uniform. He too pointed to the fact that Mr Maynier had indicated that it was a good Report - quipping that the Committee always produced good documents that others plagiarised - making an example of an ANC document of 1982 from which Mr Maynier had copied. He pointed out that the Committee could not be co-governed, and it was not possible for the Committee to present to Parliament a policy matter that still had stumbling blocks. For this reason, he moved that the Committee Report be adopted, with the recommendations already contained in it.

Mr S Esau (DA) had a serious concern about the implications of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). He said that he respected Members' opinions on the Review, but those opinions must be in line with policy and recommendations from the National Treasury and the PFMA. He referred to page 6 of the Committee recommendations, which read, “give assurance on affordability of Defence Review, including total cost estimation of each milestone.” He said that he knew the Department of Defence (DOD or the Department) had in fact failed to give the financial implications. It was furthermore a rule in Parliament that if any decisions were discussed, the financial implications must be considered. He said the Committee could not pass legislation with such huge implications without taking the financial responsibility for it fully into account. He pointed out that the Committees were to debate budgets and approve them before having them passed. It was unacceptable to follow any different process for this Review.

Mr B Booi (ANC) said the Committee followed the correct procedures right up to now. Mr Esau was not able to point to any specific section in the PFMA on which he was attempting to hold the Committee to ransom. He added that what was before the Committee was not legislation yet, but a Report on a policy document. He had read the Parliamentary Rules and there was nothing to say that the Committee must consider the costing first, then commit to the the policy. These were two separate matters. There was also nothing in the policy document that set out how the Committee must be persuaded before adopting a Report. All Members agreed that the Rules were not clear on the matter and the Committee therefore had to guide itself.

He suggested that the Committee must adopt the view of the majority, who were in favour of adopting the policy Report, and then look again at how to deal with the costing. He was quite confident that a full costing would have been done by the time legislation was prepared and submitted to Parliament. He told Mr Maynier that it would not be "a constitutional crisis" were this Report to be adopted as it stood, although Mr Maynier was suggesting that it was indeed a crisis to have not yet consulted with National Treasury. National Treasury held the view that policy arrangements could be put in place, then the policy costed, to be on par with what would be allocated. It would have been unwise, in his view, to ignore Parliament and its views on policy until such time as a full costing was prepared. The Committee's first duty was to agree on the policies, not the costing. The Rules did not say that unless and until costing was done, Parliament could not adopt policy. He added that nobody was suggesting that the costing exercise should not be done at some point. He was not convinced on Mr Maynier's point and did not agree that there was incorrect procedure.

Mr Maynier referred back to Recommendation 21 on the withdrawal. He reminded Members that there had not been any detailed briefings on certain aspects of the Defence Review so it was difficult to consider the implications. He had put forward three arguments. Firstly, it was not clear what the acquisition priorities of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would be if the Defence Review was adopted, nor was there certainty as to its affordability. Secondly, it was clear that the document proposed that the SANDF be downsized and right-sized. He urged the Committee to consider this carefully, as the implications and how it would be conducted were unclear. Mr Maynier believed that it would result in retrenching between 13   000 and 35 000 soldiers, and asked the Committee whether it was really sure that it wanted to support this, and whether it was comfortable with those numbers. The Report also did not state the period or the safety mechanisms for alternative employment for the soldiers, and he felt the Committee had not deliberated sufficiently to make a decision on this. Thirdly, he believed that, in its present state, the Defence Review was simply not affordable. The Committee had suggested that the Review would put the SANDF in a good position. However, in public office, nobody should be suggesting or implementing anything that could not be funded. He again called on the Committee to deliberate the Report fully and properly, to determine if it really wanted to adopt the Defence Review. If not, then it must propose to the Minister a policy that was affordable and implementable, to address the critical state of decline in the SANDF.

Mr Maynier reiterated his concern that the Committee was at this stage dealing with only one of his recommendations, and sought clarity on how he was to deal now with recommendations 1 to 20 of his proposal. He would like to have each deliberated upon, supported or not, and included in the Committee Report.

Ms N Mnisi (ANC) said it was very clear that those opposing the Defence Review were opposing progress and showing that they did not care for people in uniform. She believed that the Report will assist the Committee to move forward. She believed that questions of costing should not block the Committee from moving forward.

Mr D Gamede (ANC) pointed out that Mr Maynier had lost the opportunity to raise all these issues by choosing not to attend the workshop where issues were discussed. He said he should have received the minutes, and he could not complain now. It was reported that the country was presently spending 1.5% of the GDP to fund the Defence Force. After the Review was implemented, it would go up to 2%, and that already suggested that there would be extra funding. The President had also said, in the State of the Nation Address in February 2015, that the Defence Review would be funded, and all that was still outstanding was for the processes to go through, so that Parliament processed the Review. He commented that Mr Maynier was incorrect in the assumption of the number of soldiers to be retrenched, and the downsizing recommendation was from the last report, not this one.

Mr Maynier said that was factually not true.

Mr Gamede (ANC) replied that Mr Maynier did not listen, and "he surely would never support a black leader in his party".

Mr Esau wanted to make it clear that when the Committee adopted its Report, it would be looking into the engagement with the different bodies, consider who had made the best submissions and also consider Mr Maynier’s submissions, whether the Committee was to incorporate them into its Report or set them out in a separate Report. He said he had previously raised the issue that there was no political will, by the Department of Defence, to address the problem with the MMS, which had been in existence for years, and was still not resolved. This had a serious impact on the current personnel of the SANDF. The Committee had spoken of the Military Skills Development Systems (MSDS) and rejuvenating the Reserves by bringing in new members, and that was where the figure of 29 000 people came in. There were serious implications, and he urged that the Committee should not be addressing only the one point. The Committee did need to know all implications, and the President’s remarks formed but one part. It was Parliament’s responsibility to deliberate issues, not just the responsibility of the President or executive authority to make pronouncements.

The Chairperson said he would not give Mr Maynier an opportunity to speak as he wanted to close the matter.

Mr Maynier said he needed to clarify the remarks about down-sizing as this was factually untrue. He referred to Chapter 9 on page 16. This was Milestone 1, which would be implemented immediately if the document was adopted. It read: “Any personnel expenditure significantly larger than the 40% will not provide financial latitude....It is not possible to sustain the force of above 66 000.” There were presently 79 000 personnel in the SANDF. That meant that during Milestone 1 and possibly Milestone 2 the SANDF would downsize by 13 000 soldiers. The document went on to say that “Right-sizing of personnel component will have to be achieved through government level intervention, and may include one or more of the following mechanism: reduction of full-time employees....”

Mr T Motlashuping (ANC) asked that Mr Maynier must show the Committee where the figure of 35   000 was mentioned.

Mr Maynier started to speak to the Regular Force of 66   000.

Mr Motlashuping interrupted that if the figure was not stated, it was not there.

Mr Maynier replied that it was a simple maths calculation.

The Chairperson said that Mr Maynier had made his point.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) said it was not good to work on assumptions, and everyone must be realistic. This document had undergone all the necessary processes. Everyone was given the chance to make an input. The DA had made it clear to the Committee previously that it was not interested in making input at the Workshop referred to, so he wondered why it was interested in doing so today. The DA had been called to the strategic planning session and had failed to make its point there, but was now trying to suggest stumbling blocks to proceeding with the matter. The Committee Members had noted all the inputs and given serious consideration to them. However, it was necessary for the Committee to adopt the Report. He proposed that the Report be adopted. The issues had been dealt with during the strategic planning session.

Mr Booi said the debate about the health and natural attrition of the SANDF and how to achieve downsizing should not have been unforeseeable. It would not be genuine to accuse Members of not understanding what they were agreeing upon. The concerns would be looked into, as the Committee received the legislative drafts emanating from the policy document. The Committee could not stall the process at this stage, based on what was before the Committee. Mr Maynier's suggestions were to the effect that a government would firstly have to cost everything before dealing with running the country. He had never heard such a suggestion. He was surprised that a similar suggestion was being used in the Committee to stall the progress. He referred to Mr Skosana's proposal, and wanted to second it.

The Chairperson said that the matter was now regarded as closed.

Mr Maynier asked what was to be done about considering recommendations 1 to 20 in his proposal.

The Chairperson said the Committee was not dealing with those. Mr Maynier had submitted recommendations, and everybody had read them. Only one amendment was agreed on; that was Chapter 4, and it was factored in to the Report. He reminded the Committee Members that there had been sufficient interaction. This process had not started in this term of Parliament, but in the last term, and this was not mentioned previously. The last Committee had also heard a preliminary presentation of the draft recommendations on the policy, and dealt with the Defence Review chapter by chapter. The Minister was present, and Chiefs of the services had made their presentations, so there had been numerous interactions, including today.

The Chairperson called for someone to move the adoption of the Committee Report formally.

Mr Maynier raised a point of order. He wanted it confirmed, for the record, that he had made 21 recommendations but the Committee deliberated on only one. He wanted it recorded that the Chairperson was not prepared to allow the Committee to deliberate on Mr Maynier's recommendations 1 to 20.

The Chairperson said it was already on record that he had submitted amendments.

Mr Maynier corrected him, saying that they were proposed recommendations.

Mr M Mhlanga (NCOP, ANC) moved for adoption of the Report, after considering the recommendations.

Mr Motlashuping seconded the adoption of the Report. He stated that amendments were circulated and it was not factually correct to say that they were not entertained.

Mr Maynier asked that his strong objection be noted and said that the DA would be lodging a formal complaint about the proceedings.

The Chairperson declared the Report of the Committee duly adopted.

Letters from President
The Chairperson said the letters were circulated. He said that in terms of the Constitution, the President should inform Parliament within seven days of the decision. He asked the Committee to agree that if the Committee was on recess, it needed to call a special meeting to consider the letters.

The Committee Members confirmed that they were comfortable with this.

Mr Esau said in the latest report, Dr Sam Gulube, Secretary of Defence, had stated that piracy on the East coast of Africa had been reduced. He had asked the Department if it would now be starting to consider the West coast issues, and the Department had responded that it would not. He asked why the Department was then employing a full force, if piracy had been reduced. The DA did not have a problem with the letters.

Mr Booi (ANC) said he moves to the special meeting. He said he is not dismissing Mr Esau.

Committee programme
The Chairperson said no amendments were suggested after the Committee Programme had been circulated. He asked for a mover and seconder, who indicated their acceptance.

Mr Esau confirmed that the DA supported the programme. However, the Joint Committee had said it would meet to discuss site visits but it was not included.

The Chairperson agreed that it must be put in the programme.

Mr Maynier said he had made a recommendation, last year, to the Joint Committee that it should conduct oversight in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He said the South African National Defence Force was deployed to DRC for two years but the Committee had never done a site visit. He recommended that it be done in this year.

The Chairperson confirmed that the programme was being adopted, with amendments.

Minutes of previous meetings
The Chairperson suggested that the minutes be deferred, but then noted that he had not received any suggestions for actual amendments to the substance of the Minutes, only grammatical corrections.

He asked the Committee to confirm whether the substance was correct.

Minutes of 13 November
Mr Esau suggested grammar and language amendments to the Minutes of the 13 November 2014.

These minutes were confirmed, subject to the corrections

Minutes from 15 and 30 October, 6 and 20 November 2014; 20 February, 19 March 2015
The Chairperson then noted that the Committee must consider minutes from 15 and 30 October and 6 and 20 November 2014, as also minutes from 20 February and 19 March 2015.

Members moved, seconded and adopted these minutes in turn.

The meeting was adjourned.



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