The Joint Standing Committee on Defence met on a virtual platform to consider and adopt its draft reports on various issues dealt with by the Committee in recent months. It also adopted the consolidated report of its engagements with the South African defence industry role players over the period from July 2019 to November 2020.
A former member of the South African Defence Force presented a list of grievances on behalf of the South African Unintegrated Forces United Front, detailing how they were marginalised when it came to affirmative action, career development, courses, equal opportunities, equal treatment, promotions, transfers and transformation. He submitted a series of demands for “the redress of wrongs.”
Members sought details of the circumstances surrounding Mr Collins’ dismissal, and suggested that a more comprehensive submission would be needed to secure a favourable outcome. However, the internet connection with Mr Collins failed, and the Chairperson decided that all further questions would be communicated in writing, in order for Mr Collins to respond to them.
Co-Chairperson Xaba welcomed the Committee to the meeting. The rules of engagement were stated – a virtual hybrid system was to be maintained until further notice.
Adoption of Committee minutes and reports
Minutes dated 5 November 2020
Ms N Nkosi (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that her name had not appeared on the attendance list, despite her being present at the meeting.
Mr S Marais (DA) stated that he had gone through the report minutes and could find no fault. The minutes seemed to be as comprehensive and correct as it could be.
The minutes were adopted.
Minutes of dated 12 November 2020
Ms Nkosi stated that the minutes seemed to be correct and in order.
Ms A Beukes (ANC) confirmed that the draft report minutes were in order.
The minutes were adopted.
Report on Mini-Symposium of Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 3 September 2020
Mr Marais said that his name had been spelt incorrectly, and asked for it to be corrected. While everything seemed to have been captured correctly, he believed that based on the brilliant observations which had been made, there ought to have been additional recommendations included. His biggest concern was that the Committee was limiting itself to only the three key recommendations noted, especially after such extensive and brilliant observations had been made.
Dr Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg, Researcher, Defence Committees of Parliament, responded that further engagements had already been asked for. The first meeting would be taking place in January 2021.
Mr Marais said that the Committee needed to be aware of this when it came to the budgetary aspects of the recommendations, as these were dealt with by National Treasury.
Co-Chairperson Xaba agreed, and proposed that the recommendations be left as they were. Comments would be asked for from the National and Provincial Treasuries regarding the recommendations which could pose possible budget implications.
The draft report was adopted
Report of Lekgotla of Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 16/17 October 2020
Mr Marais said his first recommendation was that the Committee engage with Armscor, with the goal of them becoming self-sustainable. Secondly, with no funding available, Armscor needed to be approached and asked if there was funding in their reserves for the projects, for which they needed capital. In essence, his recommendation was for the Committee to engage with Armscor on becoming self-sustainable.
Co-Chairperson Xaba said that apparently there had been arrangements made with the Defence accounts.
Mr Marais commented that in his opinion, the observations were brilliant. He commented that they needed to get into the habit of funding and allocating money for projects, instead of merely just giving away blank cheques.
The draft report was adopted.
Draft report on engagements with defence industry role players
The draft consolidated report of the Joint Standing Committee Defence on engagements with the South African defence industry role players over the period from July 2019 to November 2020, dated 19 November 2020, was adopted.
South African Unintegrated Forces United Front presentation
Mr D Collins, a former member of the South African Defence Force, said that SADF members were still marginalised with regard to integration, affirmative action, career development, courses, equal opportunities, equal treatment, fast tracking, promotions, staffing, transfers and transformation. The pension payouts of several members were still outstanding.
In the Reserve Force, SADF members were still marginalised, and contracts were unfairly terminated, with no reasons given. He listed examples of members injured on duty and not being compensated, and continuous call-up contracts being unfairly terminated.
Most military veterans were struggling to get their names on the data base. Apart from SADF members being marginalised, others in the same position included members of APLA, AZANLA and Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). There were challenges in the area of housing and health benefits, as well as limited job opportunities for SADF and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) self-protection unit members.
Mr Collins presented the following list of demands for “the redress of wrongs”:
- Integration into the SANDF from 27 April 1994, back-dated till the present.
- Reinstatement of members unfairly dismissed, such as the 1992/93 intakes, in April 1995.
- Implementation of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act 108 of 1996.
- Implementation of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights of December 1998.
- Implementation of Act No 18 of the 2011 Military Veterans Act, dealing with all 11 benefits for military veterans, beneficiaries and dependents.
- Implementation of the African Union anthem.
- Implementation of the Pan African Parliament’s six strategic objectives.
Co-Chairperson Xaba wanted to know the date and manner of Mr Collins’ dismissal. When Mr Collins had joined the SADF, had there had been any agreement or stipulation in place which allowed for him to become permanent? The prefix of Mr Collins, including the nature of his contract, was posed as a question.
Ms T Legwase (ANC) wanted to know whether Mr Collins had been dismissed, or whether his contract had merely come to an end and not been renewed. She asked whether Mr Collins would be doing an injustice to himself and the issues he had by making no full submission, but rather the summary which he had presented, because based on the summary, he would not get the outcome which he sought.
Mr Marais asked if there had been any expectation created that Mr Collins would be integrated at the time of his contract coming to an end.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng wanted to know what the balance of the contract had been when it was terminated, and whether or not Mr Collins had been compensated for the remainder of the contract, if it had been terminated before the end of the stipulated period. When had the contract started, and what was its duration?
Mr Collins’ response
Mr Collins responded that he had been dismissed in 1995, straight after the conclusion of the elections. No communication whatsoever had been given as to the reason for his dismissal. People who had been kept on did not know why they were kept on, while others were let go.
He said he had been on a two-year contract, which in his opinion was permanent, as it had been continually renewed. The contract had begun in 1992 with the Defence Force. His prefix was “PY.” Integration had taken place from 1993 which, according to him, meant that when integration took place, his contract had not expired.
The internet connection of Mr Collins became problematic, and he became disconnected from the virtual meeting.
The Chairperson decided that all further questions would be communicated in writing, in order for Mr Collins to respond to them.
The meeting was adjourned.
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