Human Resource Strategy 2010: briefing

Defence

25 February 2003
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NOTES ON A MEETING OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE IN ROOM 1324, 120 PLEIN STREET TO CONSIDER THE HUMAN RELATIONS S

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE
26 February 2003
HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY 2010: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Ms Thandi Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
A Critique of HRS 2010 within the context of the SANDF's Readiness Levels
Presentation on Human Resource Strategy 2010 (document will be available here shortly)

Present: Mr January Masilela, Secretary of Defence
General De Wet, DoD
General Shope, DoD
General Matanzima, DoD
General Van der Poel, DoD
Captain Van Niekerk, DoD

SUMMARY
The Department of Defence briefed the Committee on amendments to their Human Resource Strategy 2010, on which the Committee was first briefed in January. The Department told the Committee that personnel expenditures are to be reduced annually by R1.363 billion by 2010. If such savings are not implemented, the only remedy is an increased defence budget. The Committee criticised the performance of the Department of Defence and operational readiness of the SANDF in meeting affirmative action and other requirements of the Defence Review. The Committee will review the amendments to the Strategy further.

MINUTES
Ms Modise (Chair): Disputes with the parliamentary secretariat have not resolved whether Committee meetings held on Monday and Tuesday are even legal. Nonetheless, I am resolved to proceed with consideration of Human Resource Strategy 2010, first presented to the Committee in Saldanha on January 24. It is deplorable to bring DoD personnel from Pretoria only to find that the agenda cannot be covered within two hours or that the meeting is cancelled. My apologies.

Mr Mthethwa (ANC): A five page memo by the ANC study group on the HR 2010 strategy is tabled, and presents criticisms of the SANDF's failure to meet issues required by the Defence White Paper. Reference is made to the near collapse of the SANDF reserve force and slow implementation of affirmative action. The conclusions of the memo are that there is no correlation between HR2010 and the SANDF's readiness levels.

General De Wet (DoD): The DoD has made amendments to the HR2010 strategy. We appreciate the comments by Mr Mthethwa, and wish to make suggestions on how to merge the two documents.

Captain Van Niekerk then presented the DoD's proposed amendments to the HR2010 using a slide presentation. (Please see document attached)

Captain Van Niekerk: Personnel expenditures are to be reduced annually by R1.363 billion by 2010. If such savings are not implemented, the only remedy is an increased defence budget. Personnel expenditure is to be reduced to 45% by 2006/2007 of the Defence budget compared with the current 52%.

Discussion
Ms Modise (Chair): This assumes a cut in personnel numbers from 70 000. Please motivate why cuts in personnel will reduce costs, and how the competency of the SANDF will not be affected. Reflecting South Africa's demographic realities in "all mustering and all levels" will be extremely difficult. For instance, if Indian or Tswana representation falls short in any sector of the SANDF, then the SANDF will fail to meet the HR 2010.

Mr Blaas (NNP): There are no Indians in the infantry, but Indians have a propensity for the Navy.

Mr Oosthuizen (ANC): Will the goal of affirmative actions not be achieved by overall representivity rather than all mustering?

Mr Blaas: Eventually a sunset clause must put an end to affirmative action, and merit will become the criterion.

Captain Van Niekerk: Retention of skilled personnel becomes increasingly difficult given the more lucrative opportunities outside the SANDF. This will become increasingly problematic with the introduction of the new equipment of the strategic package.

General De Wet: It does not make sense to train a fighter pilot only to find that he leaves after three years for SA Airways.

Mr Diale (ANC): This comes back to affordability. The HR2010 document refers repeatedly to cost, but what about ongoing affordability?

General Shope: The corporate world competes like vultures, given shortages of doctors, pilots and so forth. Civilian doctors cannot necessarily serve as military doctors, given specific requirements for military operations. Retention of skilled personnel is a major problem.

Mr Masilela: It is not only a problem of salaries. Banks poach IT staff of other banks. It is not just a matter of money, but also of the environment, career development and other non-monetary issues.

Mr Booi (ANC): If you raise the questions of competitive salaries, you will be shot down - as SA Police Services have found.

Ms Modise (Chair): Which brings me back to my statement that cuts in personnel do not necessarily translate into savings or improved efficiency.

Captain Van Niekerk: The success of HR 2010 depends on the support of all sectors including civil society.

General De Wet: The Defence Review provides for an SANDF complement of 70 000. Yet current thinking considers 70 000 to be unaffordable. The force design structure must determine the numbers rather than the HR 2010.

Ms Modise (Chair): The approved force design says 70 000, but you say that it is now not viable or affordable. Will cuts from 70 000 make the force design more viable?

Mr Masilela: We are re-prioritising within Option One of the core force, including the RDP.

Ms Modise (Chair): Yes, you need to re-prioritise, including the reconfiguration of regular and reserve forces. There is also the initiative of what constitutes South Africa's national security policies and other elements of security. You have tampered with the structures without reference to Parliament and the people who made input into the Defence Review. Those people, including Laurie Nathan and pacifists such as Terry Crawford-Browne, also "own" the structures. Defence reviews are not cast in stone, but the Department of Defence cannot change the Review without reference to Parliament. That is why we have not supported the DoD changes, and why people say that we need another defence review.

General De Wet: The way forward. We presented the HR2010 document on January 24, and today we have the amendments and input from Mr Mthethwa and this meeting. We will incorporate these and forward them to the Committee for further review.

The meeting was adjourned.

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