COVID-19 SANDF deployment, with Deputy Minister


18 June 2020
Chairperson: Mr V Xaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Joint Standing Committee on Defence 18 June 2020
Audio: Border safeguarding & deployment of SANDF members during COVID-19

Committee Report on letters from President on SANDF deployment

The Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, had been invited to present updates on South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployment in line with the letters of deployment by President Ramaphosa for COVID-19 operations and border safeguarding. The Committee raised strong exception to the absence of the Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke, from the meeting and lack of apology as well as his unaccounted absence its 22 April 2020 meeting. The Committee resolved to postpone elements of the briefing to be presented by the CSANDF on border safeguarding.

The Secretary for Defence took responsibility for the CSANDF's absence, saying he had not thought it necessary to inform him of the meeting, as the Secretary for Defence saw himself as the Department of Defence (DoD) accounting officer to the Committee. He had believed it sufficient to present on the National State of Disaster and the SANDF Joint Operations Chief to present on national border protection.

Members criticised this, noting that the unprecedented deployment of 76 000 SANDF members in COVID-19 operations was the largest of such operations in democratic South Africa’s history. It was therefore felt that despite his accounting role to the Committee as Secretary for Defence, the CSANDF was obligated to appear before the Committee as a source of information on operational command matters.

Justification for the postponement of the national border protection briefing due to the CSANDF's absence was linked to a perception of wider contempt for Parliament within the SANDF command. Members drew attention to how the CSANDF repeated absence was made worse by the comments of the SANDF Chief of Staff, Lt-Gen Lindile Yam, at the 22 April 2020 meeting who had told the Committee that the SANDF was not the Members’ clients, and only took instructions from the Commander in Chief of the country, President Ramaphosa. Members noted how such comments, when coupled with repeated absences of the CSANDF without adequate apologies (if at all) created a larger air of disrespect for constitutionally mandated oversight of the SANDF by the Committee and Parliament.

Members appreciated Dr Gulube’s presentation on DoD COVID-19 operations but were concerned that there was nothing on expenditure. The Committee requested that the next briefing include a DoD business plan with measurable objectives, outputs, performance indicators and targets which allowed the Committee to exercise oversight according to measurables. The Committee asked to be updated on the status and whereabouts of the allocated R4.5 billion COVID-19 budget allocated to the DoD. Members commended the SANDF on its role during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson said this was a follow up to the 22 April 2020 meeting on the SANDF deployment in response to COVID-19. He noted that the Minister of Defence had excused herself from the meeting due to a bereavement in the family. The Deputy Minister of Defence would join the meeting in due course.

After the Committee adopted its Committee Report and previous minutes, the Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, would present on COVID-19 activities, Operation Nklela and everything done in support of other departments. There were parts that Dr Gulube would deal with and parts Lieutenant-General Maphwanya would deal with. Thereafter there would be discussions.

Committee Minutes
The Committee considered the minutes of the 22 April 2020 meeting.

Mr M Shelembe (DA) asked from where the final decision for the SANDF employment came – was this Cabinet or the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC)?

The Chairperson said Dr Gulube was present and he sat on the NCCC. He asked if Dr Gulube had heard the question.

Dr Gulube said he did not know if the question was related to the Department of Defence. It was related to the Presidency; that was where question should be answered.

The Chairperson was unsure Dr Gulube understood. He asked if the employment of soldiers was based on a final decision by the NCCC.

Dr Gulube said he could indicate his response in terms of the decision making process. The process took into account all relevant factors related to the National State of Disaster. In the particular case referred to, most of the time, the decision to support SAPS and the Department of Health, would have come from the structure dealing first with Law Enforcement and the Department of Health. Deployment was keeping with the National State of Disaster. It came from Cabinet’s declaration. This necessitated the decision to support the Department of Health and SAPS in implementation of the National State of Disaster. Once that decision had been taken, Dr Gulube would look at the deployment papers; these then went to the Presidency. Afterwards, Dr Gulube signed off on those coming from the Executive. This was a decision from the President. Therefore, it was not one element or engagement that took place. These were multilateral decisions. This included the NCCC and Cabinet.

Mr S Marais (DA) said he heard what Dr Gulube was saying. However, subsequent to the initial narrative of the NCCC making the decision, the President had acknowledged this in legal papers and open statements. The Command Council was not a statutory body. It did not replace Cabinet. The Committee needed to note and indicate to Cabinet that the decision was wrong and unlawful if a non-statutory body advised the President and based on that, he made a decision. It should have been the Cabinet. This needed to be communicated, even if it was done retroactively.

He noted point 1.4 that noted the 2000 member initial deployment. Subsequently 74 000 members had been deployed. If this was also done by the NCCC, it was incorrect. This had to be taken into consideration. He voiced concern and said it needed to be corrected.

The Chairperson thanked Members for the comments. He said the Committee was not dealing with the letters of the President, they were dealing with the minutes and if they properly captured what was spoken about in the previous meeting. He proposed to change the minutes to what Dr Gulube had said and effect those changes to point 1.4. “Cabinet” would be substituted for “National Coronavirus Command Council”.

Mr D Ryder (DA) said paragraph 2.2, which spoke to the SANDF mandate for the lockdown, did not speak to the letters. The general mandate was supporting SAPS in the enforcement of lockdown regulations. He read the letter from the President from 21 April 2020: from the “25 March 2020…2820 SANDF” members would be deployed to maintain “law and order”. The President had said to “control law and order”. This was not restricted to lockdown regulations. If the Committee chose to reflect the SANDF mandate in terms of lockdown; it would make some actions of the Defence Force during employment illegal. It needed to change to provide “support of SAPS in enforcing law and order”.
The Chairperson asked what the mandate was.

Mr Ryder said he was referring to the letter from President Ramaphosa. It had stated the SANDF was being deployed to maintain "law and order" with the SAPS; not restricting it to COVID-19 lockdown enforcement.

The Chairperson said he was happy with the amendment.

Mr Ryder said it did not specifically limit SANDF actions in terms of limits of time.

The Chairperson said the time went beyond the original stipulated lockdown period from 26 March to 26 June. The statement would be changed to “law and order”. Therefore the mandate was not limited to lockdown; it had moved because lockdown had moved beyond the 21 day period originally stated.

The Committee adopted the minutes with the two amendments.

Committee Report on Four Letters from President on SANDF Employment
The Chairperson asked the Members for suggested amendments.

Mr Ryder raised the same issue about the SANDF mandate in the report. It was the same point about limiting the mandate to enforcement of lockdown regulations.

The Chairperson said Mr Ryder was correct. The word “lockdown” would be changed to “law and order” wherever it occurred in the report.

Mr Ryder said it was difficult to comment further on the report as the material amendments by Members had not been included.

The Chairperson agreed and asked the Committee Secretary to effect those amendments and then circulate the report to the Committee WhatsApp group while the Committee dealt with other agenda items.

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla.

Preliminary Questions
The Chairperson allowed preliminary questions.

Mr M Mmutle (ANC) asked when the Chief of the SANDF was appearing before the Committee. General Shoke was continually allocating responsibility to other SANDF members to appear before the Committee.

The Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, said he was the accounting officer to Parliament.

The Chairperson told Dr Gulube that it was not that simple. Dr Gulube could not speak with authority on matters of deployment of SANDF troops. One needed the CSANDF present to account for such a major decision as had been taken by the Commander in Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to release 76 000 members of the SANDF to assist with COVID-19 operations. These troops had been entrusted to the CSANDF. General Shoke had not been present at the previous Committee meeting either. He had been conspicuous by his absence. That he was again not present in a Committee meeting was worrying. He told Dr Gulube that he was correct about being the primary accounting officer to Parliament. However, the role of the CSANDF was different.

Mr S Marais (DA) supported his colleagues. The Committee was always attended to by the SANDF Chief of Staff, the Chief of Joint Operations, and other officials, never the CSANDF. The matter under discussion was not an administrative matter as implied by Dr Gulube, it was a major deployment operation with boots on the ground. It was unprecedented. Therefore while he had great respect for Dr Gulube, he agreed with his colleagues that the CSANDF had an obligation to report to Parliament. It was Parliament’s oversight duty to pose question to the Chief of operations on the ground.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked if the CSANDF had sent a written apology. This matter concerned a huge operation. General Shoke could not “apologise every time” and continue missing meetings. Parliament needed to be taken seriously.

The Chairperson said the Committee had received no apology in the previous meeting. There had been no written apology from the CSANDF for the current meeting either. It had been clear at the previous Committee meeting that General Shoke had been expected. The delegation’s seating arrangements according to the name plaques that had been set out had read: Lieutenant-General Yam, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, General Shoke, Lieutenant-General Maphwanya.

Ms Mmola said the situation was wrong. She asked what was happening.

Dr Gulube said if an invitation was sent to the CSANDF to attend a Committee meeting, he would attend.

The Chairperson said that the meeting concerned such a situation. The item on the agenda read “Presentation by the Secretary for Defence and the Chief of the SANDF”. It was on the agenda. Obviously it went through the Ministry, but it was assumed to be distributed to the relevant officers.

Dr Gulube said maybe the process needed to be fine-tuned as there were time constraints by the time notices came to the Department.

The Chairperson said that “when you receive an invitation, you identify the presenters”.

Dr Gulube said he would find out if the matter had been brought to the CSANDF’s attention by the DoD Parliamentary Liaison Office.

The Chairperson suggested that, subject to comments by Deputy Minister Makwetla, the Committee postpone the item on deployment of soldiers on the border for Operation Corona and Operation Nklela. The meeting would deal only with the aspects of the presentation relevant to the Secretary for Defence. The other matters would have to wait until the CSANDF honoured the invite of the Committee. The matters the Committee had been intending to deal with were so serious that it had been expected that General Shoke present on the letters from the President on SANDF deployments. Unaccounted absence had occurred in the previous meeting and in today's meeting. It would not happen again.

Ms Mmola asked who gave Dr Gulube the responsibility to brief the Committee following receipt of the proposed agenda.

The Chairperson asked Dr Gulube to answer.

Mr Mmutle wished to support the Members’ assertions. Maybe Dr Gulube needed to clarify things so as not to distort the processes of the Department. Dr Gulube had clearly indicated that he was the parliamentary accounting officer. However, the Committee had met the Chiefs of the South Africa Air Force, Army, and Navy – all components of the Service. The CSANDF had never appeared before the Committee, even when the invitation was clear. He asked why the Committee had met the other members of the SANDF. The accounting officer should have accounted for all attendees. He asked if the Secretary for Defence was responsible for dealing with every matter concerning the Department of Defence, even matters of the SANDF. This needed to be clarified, so as not to bypass or create accounting channels that were illegal. He asked Dr Gulube if this meant the Committee had been wrong to invite the CSANDF, the Chiefs of the Air Force, Navy, and Army to meetings.

Dr Gulube replied that he had been able to contact the CSANDF. About the previous meeting, General Shoke’s name tag had been present – Minister Mapise-Nqakula had invited him to attend. General Shoke had not been feeling well and did not attend. About the current meeting, Dr Gulube had understood that traditionally speaking, it was the Secretary for Defence who accounted to Parliament and put forward the delegation according to the agenda. Dr Gulube had deemed that the Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant-General Maphwanya, was requisite for the agenda. This was his mistake.

The Chairperson drew Dr Gulube’s attention to the White Paper. Clause 11.10 said that the SANDF would be subordinate and fully accountable to Parliament and the Executive, not the Secretary for Defence. The CSANDF remained accountable to Parliament. Dr Gulube was present representing an accounting officer, not the only one. The meeting was not dealing with a “mickey mouse” item. It was not an operational or day-to-day matter. It was unprecedented that the President of the country released 76 000 members of the Defence Force and made them available to the CSANDF. In the letters, the President had given the reasons for doing so, as well as where members would be deployed, the budget, and total number deployed. However, when asking for further specifics, the Committee could not ask the President. Only the CSANDF could give such specifics. The accountability of the SANDF to Parliament could not be bypassed. Dr Gulube was present at the meeting as the accounting officer of the Department of Defence. The feelings of the Committee members were strong on the matter. It was an item that needed not to be taken lightly. He allowed the Deputy Minister to provide input on his view that the item concerned would have to stand down until the CSANDF came before the Committee as stated by the White Paper.

Deputy Minister of Defence response
Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla said he had taken note of the sentiment of the Committee on the manner in which the Department had been accounting to the Committee and how delegations to Parliament were constituted. Dr Gulube had made the point that the CSANDF was not aware of the current meeting taking place. This meant that the Department had been functioning on the basis of an understanding that was at variance with how the Members of Parliament understood the matter. As far as the legal framework of the matter stood in terms of accountability, anyone who held a position in the Executive and government machinery was accountable to Parliament. For example, even the President had been in the House that afternoon, appearing before Parliament as the head of the Executive. No one was beyond accounting. The practice of how delegations of the Department were constituted for Parliament needed to be taken note of by Dr Gulube. The Members and the Department were on the “same team”. The Joint Standing Committee on Defence, the Minister of Defence, the Secretary for Defence, and the Chief of Defence were one team. There should be no feeling of antagonism. The CSANDF was not aware of the depth of sentiment as far as the occasions where he had not been in attendance before the Committee. He would be informed.

Deputy Minister Makwetla had no doubt General Shoke would make an opportunity to interact with the Committee. The lawmakers in Parliament were dedicated in looking at the sector; in understanding the person in charge of utilising the armed forces. He could understand this line of thinking, the feelings and anxiety of the sentiment of those exercising oversight. The next time the agenda included the CSANDF, he would attend. He had spoken to General Shoke just before the meeting had started. General Shoke had been in a meeting the whole day and had just emerged when they ran into one another. He believed Dr Gulube when he said that General Shoke was not aware of the meeting taking place.

The Chairperson thanked Deputy Minister Makwetla. The Deputy Minister was correct that the CSANDF was in charge of the utilisation of soldiers as entrusted by the President. In terms of Section 5 of the Defence Act, the Department of Defence, the Secretary for Defence, the SANDF, and any auxiliary services were accountable and obligated to appear before Parliament if asked to do so. The Act specifically mentioned the SANDF, as a component that was separate to the Department of Defence, as being accountable to Parliament. This was the context in which the Committee was placing a demand on the item. The CSANDF’s absence had been disturbing in the previous meeting, where the Committee had been told that the SANDF did not take instructions from Parliament and were “not like SAPS”. This had been interpreted as a statement that the SANDF was not accountable to Parliament. He asked the Deputy Minister if he had also come across such a statement since that meeting.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said it had missed his attention.

The Chairperson said the SANDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Yam, had spoken on behalf of the SANDF. He had said that the SANDF did not take orders from Parliament.

Mr Mmutle said that Lt Gen Yam had said that the Committee and Parliament were not their "clients” and that the SANDF did not take instructions from Parliament.

The Chairperson said that this was perhaps a reflection of the attitude in the military towards Parliament. Particularly in public this had seemed as though the SANDF was not accountable to Parliament. He had not thought that this was what had been meant, but it was how it had emerged. When taken into consideration with the CSANDF repeatedly not appearing before the Committee, it made Members return to statements such as those made by Lt Gen Yam and wonder if they required reconsideration.

Mr Mmutle suggested the SANDF go back and understand their own oath taken by members of the SANDF. In the oath, they indicated that they would abide by the oversight played by civilians. They were pledging allegiance to the Constitution, and thereby the democratic processes of the country, which included parliamentary oversight. They could never undermine Parliament. It was part of South Africa’s democratic process. The oath made this clear. SANDF needed to abide to Parliament.

The Chairperson said that it had been reported in the media following the meeting on 22 May 2020 that a “senior military officer told MPs that they were not the SANDF’s clients” and that “the Defence Force only took orders from the Commander-in-Chief”. He had said “You are not our clients; you are not the Police, we take command from the Commander-in-Chief”.

Deputy Minister Makwetla replied the report referenced by the Chairperson brought clarity to his mind on what was being raised. He had not immediately understood about the particular statement attributed to the SANDF Chief of Staff. The design of the institutions of South Africa’s military establishment was very clear. It had been a reorganisation and redesign of the South African defence establishment. The pre-1994 South African defence establishment’s role was such that it had been executed with very limited political oversight. This had become a foundation of the new design of how the defence executive would be executed. To this extent there had been a specific module introduced as part of training for all SANDF members. This was not restricted to cadets post-1994. The module had been presented to all levels of the defence community from the generals to the foot soldiers. It was civic education. The purpose or intention was to provide and elevate the importance of subjugation of the placing of military under political control at all times. This had been termed civil military control; as civilians elected politicians to hold control over the military. There was no member of the SANDF leadership in 2020 who had not been taken through this module. The language used and the articulation of thought could lead to misinterpretation or the miscommunication of what the intended thought had been. There had been a technical sense that the Chief of Staff had wished to convey. The choice of words used on how the thought had been formulated had been unclear. The Chief of Staff was someone who was very well aware of where the defence establishment stood.

Secretary for Defence response
Dr Gulube apologised to come in after Deputy Minister Makwetla had spoken. What the Deputy Minister was speaking to had also been his own understanding. Perhaps when looking at Lt Gen Yam’s statement it was important to put it into proper perspective.

The Chairperson asked Dr Gulube to repeat himself.

Dr Gulube said that when referring to Lt Gen Yam’s statement of not being the clients of Parliament, it would have to be put into proper perspective. Under the circumstances at the time it was said, he had not interpreted it to mean that the SANDF was not accountable to Parliament. Dr Gulube wished to say to the Committee that it was never in doubt that the SANDF understood it was accountable to Parliament. It was highlighted in all the legislative and constitutional documents, including the White Paper and Defence Act read by the Chairperson. He wished to apologise again that the CSANDF had not appeared. He took for responsibility for the occurrence. It was Dr Gulube’s fault. He would have extended the invite to appear to General Shoke. However, he had assumed that the traditional way of reporting to Parliament was through the Ministry to the Department, and the Head of Department would put together the departmental team. It was not the fault of the CSANDF – he knew nothing about the meeting taking place. He assured the Committee that the Military Command Council understood its accountability to Parliament.

The Chairperson said that Dr Gulube had summarised the subordinacy to Parliament well.

Mr Marais wished to reiterate the underlying perceptions of an attitude towards Parliament by the SANDF. Somehow the attitude towards a civilian oversight body could not be a perception of the SANDF not being told what to do. It was a constitutional democracy; whether the SANDF liked it or not; the SANDF had to fall into line. This was also a message that the Secretary for Defence and the Deputy Minister needed to take into the Military Command Council. The Committee was not there to fight the SANDF. This was not the way Parliament was treated or the perception of how it was treated. If the SANDF wished to “win the war” against National Treasury, it would have to work together with the Committee. Parliament could not be scapegoated by the SANDF when needed. There had been similar un-disciplined action as that of Gen Shoke and Lt Gen Yam by defence force members. The SANDF needed to be led by example. Due to the example set by officials to MPs and Parliament, it was no surprise that ordinary SANDF members acted towards civilians in the way they did. If the SANDF and Parliament were not working together, the end would be disastrous. He supported the Chairperson. Either the SANDF needed to conduct itself correctly and abide by the laws of the country, or the defence force would bear the brunt. The attitude of the words of Lt Gen Yam needed to be corrected swiftly.

The Chairperson said he wished to give the CSANDF the benefit of the doubt – that indeed he had not been informed he was meant to be in the meeting, rather than choosing to ignore the invite. He hoped the endeavour would be made to attend the next meeting in person and deal with matters requiring him. Dr Gulube had affirmed that the SANDF and the CSANDF were answerable to Parliament. The Committee would call upon the SANDF and the CSANDF to account to Parliament. Moreover, when an opportunity presented itself, Lt Gen Yam could also appear before the Committee to correct himself. The Chairperson would not speak on his behalf and correct his words for him. He wished there to be no doubt in the minds of the Minister, the Deputy Minister, and the Secretary for Defence, that the institution was required to be subject to civilian authority. He concluded the matter.

The Chairperson released the Major General who was to present on behalf of the Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya. The presentation on border safeguarding would not be dealt with in the meeting. It would be dealt with when the CSANDF chose to present himself.

Update on Border Safeguarding and Deployment of SANDF COVID-19
The Deputy Minister said in the interest of time he would hand over to the Secretary for Defence. The Committee had been sent the presentation from the Secretary for Defence and the Chief of Joint Operations.

Public Health Infections Containment
Dr Gulube pointed to the slide which showed nationally where the SANDF was deployed. It showed details into the cases of hotspots. What was concerning about the hotspot rates was comparing 3 May 2020 and a month later, the hotspot zones had spread from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. The slides showed the rate at which provinces were contracting the virus excluding the Western Cape.

On the dashboard for each province, the measurement of tracking and tracing was examined for effective contact tracing success. The North West needed to be under observation, as did Limpopo as mines were re-opening. The Eastern Cape was also at risk as a result of migration from hotspots in the Western Cape.

Integrated Hotspot Management
Integrated Hotspot Management related to measures taking place in hot spots. These were defined according to testing, tracking and tracing (TTT). TTT helped to determine quarantining precautions. Law enforcement was where the SANDF was supplying assistance. This assistance included ensuring SANDF visibility, provision of safety, and assisting SAPS with roadblocks.
165 military health practitioners were supporting COVID-19 by conducting scanning in identified spots by the Department of Health. Activities include quick scanning of temperatures. Operations extended to rural areas.

The slide showed tents erected by the SANDF in Mpumalanga to screen people for COVID-19. SANDF members were shown taking details in communities. These included noting symptoms to assist in a rapid clinical assessment. The SANDF were also collecting COVID-19 specimens.

SANDF was assisting in fumigating schools before they re-opened. Disinfecting teams within the Military Health Services had been dispatched.

Water Provision
SANDF was assisting with water provision for the health protocols, particularly for washing of hands and as schools were reopening. This included water purification. Water purification was the usual technology used by the SANDF in the field, such as on the borders and in the DRC to avoid Ebola and cholera. SANDF was bringing the lessons learned and the technology for keeping soldiers safe into South Africa. SANDF was taking purified water into schools with water tanks and ensuring they were regularly refilled.

Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Restrictions
The nationwide easing of lockdown had been undertaken to avoid economic collapse.

Public Health Infections Containment
Containment needed to allow time for quarantine. There were various quarantine sites in the Western Cape. These were noted so that Members could check out the facilities out and conduct site visits. The Western Cape had surprisingly not had problems with water access despite the previous year’s water restrictions. Therefore the Western Cape was not the worst affected in access to water for re-opening schools.

Enhanced Level 3
The transition from Level Three to Enhanced Level Three had been announced. The slide showed the changes to lockdown restrictions using the red dots next to the items on the slides.

Tourism Sector
Health protocols needed to be in place for Enhanced Level Three. The Department of Health had determined a range of protocols. The SANDF was expected to, with law enforcement bodies, ensure the protocols put in place by the Department of Health were adhered to.

Arts and Culture
Enhanced Level Three would include the opening of cinemas and sports as highlighted by the President.

The dates for Enhanced Level Three would be determined – making it even more challenging as the South African Military Health Service supported the Department of Health to reduce and contain COVID-19 hotspots and infections. SANDF companies had been deployed to support the Police, ensuring communities and businesses adhered to the protocols set by the Department of Health. Dr Gulube said the country would grapple with the COVID-19 virus until at least the end of 2021. This meant the SANDF deployment was “for the long haul”. Currently he could not say how much this would cost.

The Chairperson said Dr Gulube had not touched on the R4.5 billion expenditure. It had previously been indicated that this contribution in support of the Department for combating the virus was going towards the building of field hospitals, upgrading of clinics, and a number of things. He understood this was work in progress. However, while he did not expect much information on the matter; he had hoped to be given comfort that DoD was not shifting away from what had been pledged to the fight against COVID-19.

Dr Gulube apologised. He had not prepared the expenditure. DoD was however monitoring closely what was being spent. There was an internal oversight body within the Department. The procurement principles and the PFMA were adhered to according to the principles of emergency procurement. The initial budget had been R4.5 billion. With the new projections of having to last to the end of 2021; DoD would require more than the R4.5 billion. The estimate was to be reviewed. In the next meeting he would include the expenditure and not just the deployments. This would include the expenditure framework and what was expected to be spent. The Department was in uncharted waters and he echoed the President in saying “we are building the ship as we are sailing”.

Mr Mmutle wished to mirror the Chairperson's question. Dr Gulube should be aware that the Committee was not only playing oversight on the activities but also the expenditure. It should be standard reporting from the Secretary for Defence when reporting on COVID-19 to report on expenditure. Whatever was reported on required allocated resources. Therefore the expenditure needed to be provided to MPs to do proper oversight. Members needed to be able to measure what had been presented against what had been done thus far. He wanted to believe that the R4.5 billion was still with DoD as it had not been reported on. Members were limited by the presentation as it did not give any financial indication.

When coming back to present, DoD should provide a spreadsheet in terms of the transformation agenda to indicate if procurement was from big companies; if procurement was empowering women and youth, etc.

The Chairperson said the Committee wanted to see if DoD was on course with the plan that had been presented in the previous meeting. The Department would be given the opportunity to return to do so.

Mr Marais supported Mr Mmutle. The presentation had omitted critical matters. He knew a new budget was coming towards the end of June. Members would have appreciated an indication of how the expenditure would impact on that new budget. The Committee needed such details to proceed with the amended budget. Without money, it was empty words. He thanked Dr Gulube for the presentation.

The presentation had made reference to generic applications of security forces or staff. It had not spoken to SANDF specifics. The Committee was particularly interested in the SANDF role. This had been indicated in a small example with water. It was unclear what the actual role of the SANDF was and what difference it had made. This would be appreciated in the future.

Even when doing oversight in the Western Cape as suggested by Dr Gulube, Mr Marais did not want to go to a site to conduct oversight to find out that SAPS was responsible for operations there. His heart and priorities lay with the soldiers and the defence force. He would appreciate specific indications on where the SANDF was involved in COVID-19 operations. The role of MPs was to identify if and where more money was required and to lobby on behalf of DoD and SAPS for it. To do so, the Members required specifics.

Dr Gulube agreed with the Members. The inclusions would be made for the next meeting, such as budget expenditure. He asked to be provided specific time frames to choose a cut-off date for the figures he would provide. The Department monitored budget and expenditure matters on a two week basis.

The Chairperson said the Committee would return to this matter. A business plan was needed with outputs, performance indicators and timelines. To be able to keep oversight on the expenditure with the absence of a business plan was difficult. Dr Gulube had said DoD would need more money. The Committee wanted to support it for more money; however, it was difficult to lend support when it was unclear what exactly the money was being spent on. The Committee was not being given a measurable business plan, incorporating multiyear projects spread over financial years. He asked for the Committee to be taken through the business plan at the next meeting.

Mr Ryder said he had been well covered by Mr Marais. He requested the presentation document which he had not received. The Defence Force was to be congratulated on what it had achieved, such as distribution and water services. He joked that the Department should be merged with the Department of Public Works. It had been work well done. He looked forward to the operation report.

The Chairperson said to Dr Gulube that it had been a good meeting, the first part of the meeting notwithstanding. It was not a lost cause. He had wanted to receive a briefing from the Defence Force. At the beginning of the Sixth Parliament, the Committee had visited the army base in Cape Town and had been grateful they had been received by the Chief of the Army at the time, Lieutenant-General Yam. The Committee had gone to the Air Force and been received by Lieutenant-General Msimang, Chief of the Air Force. The Committee had gone to the Navy and been received the Chief of the Navy. The Committee had also visited a military hospital and had been met by the Deputy Surgeon General as the Surgeon General had not been appointed yet. This was the manner in which the Committee had been honoured in the meetings with various arms of the SANDF. The Committee had similarly met with the Reserve Force, represented by the Chief of the Reserve Force. The new Committee had felt honoured by the presence of the SANDF leaders when coming to their bases to learn what was done at each of them which had empowered the Committee to exercise oversight. He asked to convey the Committee’s gratitude for the SANDF’s conduct in these instances.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting after adopting the amended Committee Report.


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