The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) presented an overview of how the Department functioned and their plans for the financial year. The key policy considerations that the Department was going to focus on included amending the Military Veterans Act, reconfiguring the structure of the Department in order to align it with their mandate, ensuring that support in the areas of education and healthcare benefits were being provided to military veterans, and strengthening statutory bodies within the Department.
Members wanted to know what the criteria were for someone to be classified as a military veteran. The significance of this question lay within the historical context of the country, and essentially, determined whether or not the Department was honouring and providing benefits to members of the previous oppressive apartheid regime. They also pointed out that military veterans staying in rural areas often found that there was a lack of medical services available, and asked the Department how they were planning to deal with this problem.
The Department of Defence (DoD) said that in the current socio-economic environment, illegal immigration was a major problem, and for this reason that the Defence Force was maintaining the number of sub-units at 15. This would greatly contribute to efficient border safety and control.
An opposition Member asserted that the Department was not even close to spending what was required in terms of the National Treasury guidelines and the Defence Review on human resources, operations and equipment. There was a downward trend in respect of maintenance and upkeep. With regard to the protection borders, the presentation had referred only to the land border, and even with Operations Phakisa and Copper, it seemed as if there was not a single maritime patrol that took place.
Armscor said they prided themselves on complex acquisitions, and year after year they had presented opportunities for a working relationship with various state organs, including the DoD and DMV. They were the custodians of the intellectual property (IP) of the DoD, and if companies like Denel wished to sell products which were manufactured using the resources or IP of the DoD, they would have to a follow a strict process, which Armscor oversees.
Members questioned the primary mandate of the company, and complained that the information in the financial overview was not sufficient for the Committee to provide proper oversight. There had been no comparative figures to measure the performance of Armscor over the year.
The Castle Control Board said it was a small team of 28 employees, which included volunteers. The Castle was largely demilitarised, and its income was derived mainly from tourism, events and educational programmes. The events provided occasional employment opportunities for security personnel. The budget was around R8 million. The maintenance of the Castle was funded and although this alleviated a lot of financial pressures, this funding did not take care of immediate breakages. The majority of the budget was spent on operational costs and salaries, as well as events, marketing and heritage programmes aimed at increasing public interest, and tourist activities.
A Member suggested there should be more of a cultural focus at the Castle, and use of the environment to teach South Africans about the various cultures and the history surrounding it.
Department of Military Veterans: Budget and Annual Performance Plan for 2019/2020
Ms Nonthobeko Mafu, Deputy Director General (DDG): Department of Military Veterans (DMV), said the aim of this presentation was to present an overview of how the Department functioned and their plans for the financial year. The key policy considerations it was going to focus on included amending the Military Veterans Act, reconfiguring the structure of the Department so as to align it with their mandate, ensuring that support in the areas of education and healthcare benefits were provided to military veterans, and strengthening statutory bodies within the Department.
The overall budget was made up of the individual budgets of three programmes. Programme 1 had been allocated R 136 million, while Programmes 2 and 3 had been allocated with a higher budget because these dealt with the benefits. The annual performance plan (APP) broke down in detail where the budget of each programme would be allocated.
Programme 2 dealt with socio economic support, and there were seven indicators within this programme. These included housing, healthcare, bursaries, compensation, counselling, education and transport. Programme 3 dealt with stakeholder management. In this programme there were five indicators, which included the skills development programme and business opportunities for military veterans.
Within the APP, there were indicators which explained how the estimated national expenditure (ENE) would be met, while the footnotes of the APP also included an explanation of each of the indicators as stated in the three programmes.
Dr B Holomisa (UDM) wanted to know what the criteria were for someone to be classified as a military veteran.
Mr J Maake (ANC) also wanted to know what the criteria were. The significance of this question lay within the historical context of the country, and essentially determined whether or not the country was honouring and providing benefits to the previous oppressors. With regard to housing, he wanted to know which regulations were currently being used, and why they needed to be changed.
Mr M Shelembe (DA) asked about those military veterans staying in rural areas. In these situations, it was often found that there was a lack of medical services for them. How was the Department planning to deal with this problem?
Ms A Beukes (ANC) asked the Department if they had any plans to integrate into various municipalities, or if they planned to liaise with them. She also sought more clarity on programme 2, and what the increase in consulting fees would be used for.
Mr T Mmutle (ANC) questioned the Department on their reduction in budget in the area of management, and wanted to know the factors which had contributed to this welcomed reduction. He wanted to know if the Department had a data base in place to assist them with meeting their housing programme targets for military veterans.
Mr S Marais (DA) said there was legislation which clearly stated the criteria for qualification as a military veteran, and that the problem actually lay in the cut-off age for such qualification, so he would like more clarification in this regard. He also enquired about the progress of the database of the Department. He said that the budget was not enough to meet all the objectives as set out by the Department. It was important to know who the dependants of the military veterans were, and whether or not they received health care benefits as well. On the housing issue, there had been a projected drop and this was an important area, as there had also been an increase in military veterans. He therefore wanted feedback from the Department on how they plan on dealing with this issue, so that the Committee could assist them as well.
Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister: DMV, responded to the questions raised by the Committee surrounding classification of veterans, as well as structural challenges and policy considerations.
She said the issue surrounding who qualified as a military veteran was a sensitive one, and that this should be discussed in the context of not only what was written in the legislation, but also taking into consideration what the situation was in reality. When the legislation was drafted, the military veterans the drafters had in mind were those veterans who had fought for the liberation of the country, as opposed to those who were the oppressors. It should be kept in mind, however, that the Department had been formed before this legislation, and so policy formation had come later, and this was why there was a consideration to amend the legislation. Experience had shown the Department that there were quite a number of military veterans who came from statutory and non-statutory forces. It was thus the case that it was difficult to turn away these veterans when they approached the DMV for assistance, as the intention of the legislation was to look after all those military veterans who assisted with the liberation on the country. In essence, the main reason for wanting to amend the legislation, was because the current classification of military veterans failed to encompass the realities of who were considered as military veterans. Because this inconsistency directly took away from the purpose of the legislation, it needed to be amended.
Regarding the integration with various municipalities, the Minister said that there had been some form of liaising with municipalities, but in some areas there had not. This was because not all municipalities prioritised military veterans in the same way.
The targets that had been indicated were supposed to be national targets, but the problem lay with the fact that the feedback the Department received with regard to the targets being met often came from individual provinces. However, some provinces did not prioritise housing benefits for military veterans as others did, and so the information in this regard was skewed.
Mr Sibongiseni Ndlovu, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): DMV, responded to the questions raised surrounding the budget and how the housing programme was being funded.
He said that with all the cost pressures in key areas such as health, housing and education, it was true that if the Department was to fund every area as set out in their mandate, then the funding they had would not be enough, and this was why key areas were being prioritised. One of these was housing. The Department had created a new funding model, whereby they paid the provinces according to delivery of the houses, as opposed to the old pre-delivery allocation system. He said that 54% of the budget went to benefits, which was an indication of the prioritisation of service delivery by the Department.
The DMV was aware of the issues raised concerning healthcare and they were looking into working with the Department of Health, but their mandate did not allow them give preference to military veterans over a normal citizen when it came to matters such as dialysis services or transplants. Regarding access to health care in the rural areas, the DMV was looking into coming up with viable solutions to problems which may arise in this regard, or with regard to service delivery.
Department of Defence: Budget and Annual Performance Plan for 2019/2020
Major General Michael Ramantswana, Chief of Military Policy, Strategy and Planning: South African National Defence Force (SANDF), said the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Defence Force derived their mandate from chapter 11 of the Constitution, and the Defence Force had to be structured and operated within the limits of these provisions.
Currently, the Defence Force found itself being allocated very little of the national budget, and this had a major impact on its functionality. This was a worry, as the Force assisted the DoD with various peacekeeping missions, both nationally as well as internationally.
Because of current socio-economic circumstances, there were major problems with illegal immigration, and it was for this reason that the Defence Force was maintaining 15 sub-units, which would greatly contribute to efficient border safety and control.
When it came to legal issues, there was a need for the Department and the Defence Force to familiarise themselves with the international regulatory frameworks surrounding the use of force. One of the biggest threats to the international security agenda was technology and cyber-attacks. South Africa would not be immune to these attacks, so the Defence Force would be working tirelessly in the field of technological research to protect the country from these threats. However, it was important to note was that they were moving at a very slow pace in this regard because of a lack of resources.
The budget structure of the Department of Defence had not changed. It had retained the eight programmes included in its APP. These programmes, and the money allocated to each of them, made up the overall budget of the Department, which had undergone a significant budget cut of R5 billion. The implications of this cut on the Department were relevant in areas such as the output of the Department, military operations and the ability to produce proper training.
Mr Marais said that he would have liked the presentation to have touched more on the fact that the DoD was not even close to spending what it needed to spend in terms of the guidelines by the National Treasury and the Defence Review on human resources, operations and equipment. The lack of money being spent on equipment showed that it was heading downwards in terms of maintenance and upkeep. He asked about the possibility of DoD support in cases of unrest, which had been a constant topic of discussion in urban areas. He was aware of the response that had been given last year, but thought it would be important to get feedback on what the current status was surrounding the possibility and the desirability of deploying soldiers in urban areas. There were currently 15 units that were deployed to the land’s borders, and 15 were in training as well. Considering how many units there were in the DRC, the country did not have enough medically fit soldiers who were ready for deployment in the urban areas. He thus sought clarity from the Department in this regard.
The second issue concerned the rejuvenation of the Defence Force. In the past, the average age of an infantry soldier was 32 years, and he wanted to know what the data was like now, because his concern was that there had been a decision to not hand out camouflage uniforms due to a lack of them. This was in itself was a major concern, because if they did not have the money to obtain more uniforms, it not only meant that they did not have the ability to bring in new youthful soldiers, but also that the Defence Force was aging further and further, which was a major risk.
With regard to the protection of the borders, Mr Marais said that the presentation referred only to the land borders, and even with Operations Phakisa and Copper, it seemed like there was not a single maritime patrol that took place, even though the target for this was four times per year. Another matter which the presentation had failed to mention was air patrols. This something that 35 squadron was supposed to perform, and 35 squadron had only one old Dakota, which could probably only fly up to Springbok. In essence, therefore, South Africa’s capability in terms of air and maritime patrols was zero, which was a huge risk because Operation Phakisa was currently providing very little to zero support in this regard, and it seems not to be a priority.
Regarding cyber security, cyber capabilities could be a huge force multiplier, and although the DoD had indication their willingness towards incorporation, the country still did not have any cyber capabilities. The importance of increasing competencies in the field of cyber capabilities was that they could be used to reduce the use of air and maritime capabilities at the borders.
Mr Marais said inshore patrol vessels were being built in Cape Town, and he suggested that the Committee visit the construction site in order to better perform oversight. He wanted to know the status of Project Hoofyster, his concern and worry being that there seemed to be reliance on Denel to build this vehicle and to provide it to the Defence Force, but the status of the project was unknown because delivery had repeatedly been delayed. His frustration was that he often saw similar vehicles being created by other South African companies and being exported, which the government was struggling to build a vehicle for the Defence Force. The fact that the soldiers were using equipment which was up to 60 years old presented a major risk to their safety and the country itself, and the updating of these pieces of equipment should be a priority.
Finally, he asked the Department about the overspending of R1 billion to R3 billion on an annual basis on human resources.
Mr Maake asked whether the Defence Force was offering the essential services prescribed by the Constitution because if they were not, they were acting in contravention of the Constitution. If this was the case, what recourse did the Defence Force have if they got taken to court? While the population of the country was increasing, why was the number of personnel in the Defence Force, as well as the amount of money spent on training and maintenance, decreasing?
Mr N Matiase (EFF) said that there needed to be transformation within the military. He referred in particular to the socio-economic responsibility the military had, which may fall outside of its core mandate. He shared a story of himself as a young man in the mid-80s, and recalled how the military back then made outings to rural areas, and to his township in the Free State. This was in contrast to the military today, which did not seem to be as involved in the communities. With regard to the acquisition of new technology and upgraded equipment, he wanted to know if there was a policy in place which regulated this process. The budget cuts were a major concern, especially when they affected military personnel, and suggested that the Committee assist the Department in addressing this issue.
Lieutenant General Vusumuzi Masondo, Chief of Staff: SANDF, responded to certain questions raised by the Committee, but gave an assurance that where certain questions were not addressed for confidential reasons or time constraints, the Department would ensure a follow up and would flag those questions.
Addressing the question surrounding the deployment of soldiers to areas of unrest, he said that in terms of deployment, the requirement was that all soldiers must fully pass the medical exam, so those who were deployed were fully fit and able. The fact that there was not a sufficient exit strategy for members of the Defence Force was a hindrance on the rejuvenation of the Force, and was a major problem. The average age of soldiers had also increased now to 39 years. The issue surrounding the issuance of uniforms had not really affected the rejuvenation of the Force, but there had a been an ongoing problem of current members of the Force misusing their uniforms, and this had had a financial impact.
He conceded it was true that the Defence Force was not able to protect the borders as efficiently as desired due to a lack of technological improvements and budget constraints. The issues surrounding cyber capabilities were of great concern to the Defence Force, and this aspect was being prioritised.
Armscor: Budget and Annual Performance Plan 2019/2020
Mr Solomzi Mbada, CEO: Armscor, said Armscor prided itself on complex acquisitions, and year after year it had presented opportunities for a working relationship with various state organs, including the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. Armscor was the custodian of the intellectual property of the DoD, so if companies like Denel wished to sell products which were manufactured using the resources or intellectual property of the DoD, they would have to a follow a strict process which Armscor oversaw.
There had been a need to develop a regeneration strategy which looked at ways to commercialise technology which had been developed within the military. These technologies found their markets in foreign countries which were keen on forming relations with South Africa. One of the facilities which Armscor manages was the dockyard in Simons Town. Armscor oversees the facility’s upkeep, rejuvenation and the managing of its commercial opportunities. There was now a new management team at the dockyard and the morale was high, with many promising opportunities set to arise soon.
There had been significant growth with the outreach programmes and initiatives started by Armscor. Just over 10 years ago, Armscor built its first school, and it now had a presence in most of the provinces. They also had a bursary programme which they run, and had been working with the Department of Education in this regard. The funding received by Armscor for services rendered to governmental organs such as the Department of Defence contributed to about 75% of their assets, but their main asset was their specialised work force.
Armscor got most of their income from transfer payments, and recently there had been a decline in these payments which, coupled with budget cuts, had been a worrying area for Armscor. They had been working hard at finding solutions to this problem, however.
The Chairperson wanted to know why there were no comparable figures from the budget of the previous financial year in their presentation.
Mr Marais echoed the concerns of the Chairperson in this regard. He said that this was an important omission because it seemed like the primary function of Armscor had changed, and he wanted to know why it was not acquisitions anymore. He also wanted clarity on what their revenue was over time, as well as what the 75% they received from Parliament was for -- whether it was compensation for acquisition related activities, or not.
He said that Hoofyster was by now an old project, and the technologies used then had lost their significance in terms of giving a competitive edge. Thus, the question was when the project would conclude, and for how much longer this project had to be funded. He raised a concern about the dockyard becoming more privatised, and wanted to know the reason for the change in focus. What had been the objective of attending the Paris Air Show -- how had this benefited the Department? Based on the primary objectives of Armscor, he wanted to know if there were any plans for acquisitions when it came to Squadron 35.
Mr Matiase also questioned the primary mandate of the company. He pointed out that Armscor had been maintaining various facilities, and the Committee needed to know the cost of their maintenance. He wanted clarity on whether Armscor’s acquisition was import-based or not. He questioned the competitiveness of Armscor at the manufacturing level, and pointed out that although Ghana’s economy was far less developed than South Africa’s, it had locally produced and manufactured its own car, so why was it not possible for South Africa to do this as well?
He said the information about the financial overview was not sufficient, and he wanted to know why they had not presented this information to the Committee, as comparative figures to measure the performance of Armscor over the year was what they needed in order to hold it accountable.
Lastly, in regard to human resources, Armscor had been very impressive in all of the different key areas. His question was why there had been a such a massive decline in white representation within the company.
Mr Mbada, responding to the question of their method of acquisition, said that Armscor practiced a local-based approach to acquisitions first, and only once they failed to achieve a local acquisition did they turn to an import-based system. Armscor also had a plan in place for acquisitions when it came to Squadron 35.
He referred to the issue of intellectual property (IP). Armscor, as previously mentioned, were the custodians of the IP owned by the Department of Defence. When it came to the management of this property, any IP which was paid for by the Department was owned by the Department. This included IP used by Denel or any other company, and although they may use the intellectual property of the Department, the Department nevertheless were still the owners.
On the issue of local manufacturing, these were always limited by funding restraints. However, as a country, there had been great strides in innovation when it came to manufacturing our own vehicles. In fact, specifically within the environment of the defence and the military, there were locally produced vehicles. South Africa had a number of companies who locally produced these vehicles and exported them.
Armscor did not cross into the commercial sphere when it came to producing vehicles, and they exclusively manufactured products for use within the context of defence and military purposes. However, they had recently manufactured a truck which had been upgraded for military use. They also had a number of further projects in the wings, but these projects would take some time to complete due to the budget constraints.
Castle Control Board: Budget and Annual Performance Plan for 2019/2020
Mr Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO: Castle Control Board, said the Board was established by the apartheid government with the objective of maintaining and protecting the Castle, as well as making it more accessible to civilians and promoting it as a tourist attraction. Today the Castle was about 90% demilitarised.
The Board was comprised of a small team of 28 employees, which included volunteers. They also had events which brought in security personnel, so the Castle was constantly creating employment opportunities, even if it was for only one event.
The budget of the Control Board was around R8 million. The maintenance of the Castle was funded, and although this alleviated a lot of financial pressures, this funding did not take care of immediate breakages. Its income also came from tourism, events and classes, among other sources. The majority of the budget was spent on operational costs and salaries, as well as events, marketing and heritage programmes aimed at increasing public interest and tourist activities.
One of the challenges faced by the Castle Control Board was the increasing security risks. The security within the five walls of the castle was under control, but most of the issues happened in the surrounding areas outside of the Castle, the most recent being the death of two scholars as a result of violence. There had also been scams recently, where people had been selling bogus tickets to enter the Castle. A solution to improve safety around the Castle was to install fencing, but this was not desirable. Although CCTV cameras had been installed, this had not done much to mitigate risks and danger, so the Board was currently looking into alternative solutions to this problem.
The Castle Control Board had made significant budget cuts, but feels that with a very small subsidy of R850 000, many of the month-end pressures felt by the Board would be relaxed.
Ms Beukes said she would like to see more of a cultural focus at the Castle, using the environment to teach South Africans about the various cultures and the history surrounding it.
Mr Gilfellan responded that they had been trying to place more emphasis on cultural education at the Castle, as this had been a long-standing objective. Recent progress made in this regard had been the implementation of weekend classes at the Castle, which had recently been appropriated by Stellenbosch University as well as the University of Cape Town (UCT). Currently there were still ongoing classes and community programmes, so there had been progress made in this regard.
The Chairperson thanked the Castle Control Board and the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Defence, DMV, Armscor & Castle Control Board 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan, with Minister & Deputy Minister 1
- Department of Defence, DMV, Armscor & Castle Control Board 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan, with Minister & Deputy Minister 3
- Department of Defence, DMV, Armscor & Castle Control Board 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan, with Minister & Deputy Minister 2
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