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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 September 2003
SERVICE CORPS: BRIEFING
Acting Chairperson: Mr D. Dlali (ANC)
Department of Defence delegation:
General Z. Ngqose Chief: Service Corps; Brigadier Q Painter Deputy Chief: Service Corps
The Service Corps has had a chequered history, with allegations of mismanagement and corruption. The Department of Defence came with fresh proposals for the Service Corp as the current system is ineffective. However committee members appeared frustrated and impatient with its lack of delivery and purpose despite an annual salary budget of R35 million and employment of 240 people.
The Chief of the Service Corps alleged that the Service Corps was set up to fail because of the mistrust that then prevailed between the former South African Defence Force, the former homeland armies and the non-statutory forces. He maintains that there are still many people who need Service Corps support and training.
Summary of exchange between Service Corp and Committee
Painter: The Service Corps is a Reconstruction and Development Programme project established in 1996 to find formal or informal unemployment for ex-combatants. It was intended then that it should eventually be transferred out of the Department of Defence. On May 13, 2003 we requested a mandate to take this forward. Given the few clients being processed, the system is ineffective.
Nqose: This proposal is being treated by the Minister of Defence as a matter of urgency, but we do require input from the Portfolio Committee - hence this briefing.
Painter: The Service Corps faces a two-path strategy:
To continue to work within the Department of Defence for people leaving the South African National Defence Force. We have trained 4 758 people to date, of which 579 have been placed. German donor funding has not been used, but it is now intended to allocate it for use for the needs of veterans and to place emphasis on education.
To migrate the Service Corps outside the Department of Defence into a national asset, and to make it available within NEPAD and the African Union. The options are:
- where we migrate to?
- what we would migrate as?
- would we migrate as a private-public partnership, a public-public partnership, or be considered as a strategic national asset?
A donation of R21 million has been received from German business as a countertrade from the arms deal programme. The proposal to establish business relationships with veterans will draw on the experience of integrating East Germany after the fall of communism.
There is no point in using soldiers at the borders. The purpose of soldiers is to wage war. If government policy is no more war, then we need to retrain our troops for a non-war environment. The German programme assumes a Grade 9 education.
In 1996 the Cabinet decided that the Service Corps would migrate out of the Department of Defence. We now wish to be reconstituted before April 2004, and then to establish a 5 year programme.
Schmidt (DA): My previous optimism about the Service Corps has withered. To be blunt, this is more talk about talk, with no decision or outcome. How many people have been trained? And trained in what business practices? You should close down rather than plead with political executives to create a purpose for your existence. The intention of integrating people into civilian society has come to an end.
Daniels (ANC): Are the failures of the Service Corps attributed to lack of funding? What are your criteria? Why is the Service Corps being run by the military when its intention is to retrain people to become civilians?
Nqqose: I agree with Advocate Schmidt that we are extending the debate, but I refer to the decisions made in 1996 that have never been implemented. The Service Corps was set up to fail because of the mistrust that then prevailed between the former South African Defence Force, the former homeland armies and the non-statutory forces. There are however, still many people who need Service Corps support and training. There are 240 people employed by the Service Corps with salaries totalling R35 million per annum.
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