Status of the Defence Secretariat: briefing


19 February 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


19 February 2003

Chairperson: Ms Thandi Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation by Defence Secretariat (document is awaited and will be available here shortly)

Present: Ms Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Deputy Minister of Defence
Mr JB Masilela, Secretary of Defence

The Committee was briefed by the Defence Secretariat on its objectives and vision as well as its challenges for the next five years. The Committee would prioritise the restructuring of the Secretariat in 2003. A restricted document outlining the Secretariat's policies over the next ten years was also circulated. The re-establishment of the Defence Secretariat, and we do so to make sure that the Department of Defence ensures that the military do not get involved with areas that are not their business, and that mechanisms are established to ensure civilian control.


Ms Modise: The restructuring of the Defence Secretariat is the Committee's priority for this year. The issue of the commandos is current. As advised by the President, the commandos are being phased out rather than abolished, and security matters will be carefully implemented. Once appropriate structures have been established, they will replace the commandos in their performance of civilian security duties.

Deputy Minister Madlala-Routledge: The Department of Defence has benefited from the Joint Standing Committee on Defence deliberations, and are happy to introduce a high-powered delegation headed by the Secretary of Defence. The issue of the commandos is part of the consideration of how to upgrade the Police, and the policing function of the commandos will be phased out. We are fulfilling our mandate in terms of the Constitution, the Defence White Paper and the Defence Review.

Ms Modise: We emphasise the re-establishment of the Defence Secretariat, and we do so to make sure that the Department of Defence ensures that the military do not get involved with areas that are not their business, and that mechanisms are established to ensure civilian control. We have lost ground over the past few years on civilian control. We believe that efficient workings of the Secretariat will improve the relationship with Parliament. Establishment of the African Union Security Council also means that we need to look closely at the structures. South Africa will have to give leadership, especially in the SADC region.

Mr Masilela (Secretary of Defence): A "restricted" 35-page report on the Secretariat's policies over the next ten years is presented. This will be illustrated by a slide presentation. It will be followed by a report on the state of the acquisitions, and our response to the Joint Investigating Report recommendations.

There is national consensus that the SANDF must be properly equipped. It is critical to articulate the needs of the SANDF, and to allocate resources to support our effective and professional armed forces. Our report shows the successful completion of the transformation process. The NCACC secretariat is located within the Department of Defence. In 2002 the Department of Defence, for the first time in many years, achieved an unqualified financial statement approved by the Auditor General.

As regards the acquisitions, deliveries are continuing according to plan except for a nine month delay on the corvettes because of cabling problems. There is also a problem with the helicopter doors, but it is not serious.

Mr Masilela conducted a slide presentation on the vision and mission of the Defence Secretariat, core business, the successes to date, and the challenges over the next four to five years particularly in personnel transformation.

Adv Schmidt (DP): The new Defence Act was signed by the President on February 13, 2003. What impact will this legislation have?

Mr Ntuli (ANC): What is happening regarding land restitution at Wolmaranstad, Lohatla and Modimba?

Ms Modise: What is the situation regarding the Ombudsperson?

Mr Masilela: The new Defence Act reflects the new vision and ethos of the democracy. It is a major success, but we must now work out the regulations to make sure that they are in line. The Ombusperson's office is actually outside our jurisdiction, the experience with Advocate Scrooby having proved unsatisfactory. The tract of land at Wolmaranstad has been contested, and we will hand it over. Madimbo is a training area, and we have not yet determined our response. Lohatla stays: the community in the Northern Cape has identified alternative land, and R9 million has been allocated for the SANDF for resettlement. A small portion of the community has refused the government's offer, and the matter is now back in the courts. They claim the centre of the shooting range.

Ms Modise: We need to satisfy ourselves on border duties. What is the division between military and policing?

Mr Fihla (ANC): What is the state of personnel readiness in terms of defending South Africa? What defines "readiness", and against which countries?

General Sadibe: The DoD is aware that the personnel behind the equipment are crucial. The biggest issue is morale. We are introducing a shared value system so that troops appreciate that their families will be cared for in times of war.

General Roux: Appendix E regarding acquisitions will be circulated, and a new Department of Defence Acquisition Policy will take effect by 1 July 2003. We have noted the recommendations of the Joint Investigative Team report into the arms deal, and one acquisition policy document is being formulated to replace the present three documents. We would advise that the DoD has less than 1 000 personnel involved in acquisitions whereas the UK has 12 000. We note that all currency risks should be disclosed to the Cabinet and, if costs are prohibitive, the Cabinet must determine the needs for an acquisition.

General Coetzee: The directorate for anti-fraud operations has established its mission that "frauds are detected, investigated, prosecuted and losses recovered." A hot-line for whistleblowers has been established. A budget of R4.6 million has been allocated for 26 members, but we presently have a staff of five.

Ms Modise: The Committee will meet again next week. The issues we want to discuss are:

-Rank Review.
-Legal Division - complaints that it is not functioning properly, as illustrated last year by the Defence Act legislation.
-Finance Division - a breakdown of race and gender
-Auditor General reports - are not complimentary about your office.
-The SADC organ does not function. How is this to be remedied given the AU Security Council?
-Acquisition policies and the perception of corruption which is caused by inadequate policies. The proposed Armscor Bill, including advising DTI on NIPS is a recipe for problems. Good governance begins at DoD.
-Force design - we need another public debate. HR2010 must include public input.

Mr Diale (ANC): Restitution of land - what rehabilitation measures are being undertaken?

The meeting was adjourned.


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