Courtesy Visit by the SANDF College

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Defence and Military Veterans

19 September 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


19 September 2003

Documents handed out

Chairperson: Mr D Dlali (ANC)

A number of senior military officers from several African countries visited the Committee as part of their Executive National Security Programme (ENSP) training. The delegation was introduced by Rear-Admiral Donkin and then the Committee answered a number of the delegation's questions, particularly regarding budgeting for peace support missions and the military integration process.

In answer to a delegation question, one MP said the Committee were awaiting for a response from the Department on the dispute between the Defence Force Chief Nyanda and Minister Lekota, as well as a case concerning the improper romantic liaison between two officers.

He added that, according to the report, the Tempe incident was caused by a lack of professionalism and cultural sensitivity. The Committee monitored such matters and introduced regulations to address them if required. The implementation of these laws and regulations was the task of the Executive branch of State and the SANDF.

Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) said the Committee should be more involved in the monitoring of SANDF spending. The Committee also amended legislation where necessary and was involved in the defence review process.

A Member explained that the Committee focused on legislation whilst the Joint Standing Committee was more involved in the foreign relations aspects of Defence. There was naturally significant overlap between the Committees. NCOP members could raise issues in the Joint Standing Committee that affected their respective constituencies such as military bases in the provinces. Where previously there had been two Defence chairpersons, currently there was one Chairperson for both Committees to ensure continuity and harmonisation of functions.
The Budget was always planned in advance. Military deployments were difficult to accommodate in terms of budgeting as there was often had little advance notice of engagements. Given limited national resources, large amounts of money for deployments could not be kept in reserve for possible eventualities.
Military missions were often conducted in conjunction with the African Union, United Nations or other regional bodies. Even if South Africa contributed its share, the mission could be affected by other nations' decisions.

Mr Jankielsohn said foreign deployments should be balanced with domestic needs and goals. In 2004- 2006, South Africa expected to spend R4 billion on foreign deployments. There should be a balance between Peace Support missions and investing in the SANDF. There should also be clear entrance and exit plans prior to engaging in any peace support missions. Previously Parliament was only informed of foreign deployments. The Committee should be more involved in this process, especially given their concerns for the welfare of South African troops.

Mr Dlali said South Africa was expected to play a leading role in Africa and was often unexpectedly required to become involved in military missions, such as happened in Liberia and Burundi. He reiterated the President's expressed imperative on African self-reliance. South Africa was obliged to shoulder its responsibility in the African Union and prioritise saving lives.

A member of the SANDF delegation asked if the military integration process was certified as satisfactorily completed by the Committee.

Mr Dlali said junior officers often gave the Committee valuable information that differed from the perspectives of their Generals. He expected SANDF representatives to report back too military personnel after Parliamentary consultations. The Committee was irritated by inconsistencies contained in the military integration report and rejected it.

The Public Protector had recently addressed the Committee on grievances within the SANDF. Between 70% and 80% of the complaints with which he was currently dealing, stemmed from the integration process.

A member of the SANDF delegation asked if a Military Ombudsman had been appointed. He said the SANDF disciplinary procedures had collapsed and there were many unresolved grievances.

A Member said the Military Ombudsman had been appointed but he was unsure how familiar the SANDF was with this office. The integration process was complex and involved many standing armies. Members of the SANDF need to be aware of their right to refer grievances to the Ombudsman.

A member of the SANDF delegation said in negotiations with military trade unions, the Department of Defence has withdrawn its representatives from the Bargaining Council. This had resulted in a deadlock.

Mr Jankielsohn said there was no actual National Security Policy, although a relevant research document was available at the Military Academy.

Captain (NN) F O Osho, Executive of the National Security Programme at the SANDF College then presented Mr Dlali with a plaque in commemoration of this auspicious occasion.

The meeting was adjourned.


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