In a virtual meeting, the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) received a briefing on the challenges facing the Reserve Force. The Committee was made aware that this contingent of the armed forces is without a properly constituted leadership. The former Chief of the SANDF Reserves, General Anderson, had retired in 2021, and General Niyabo has been Acting Chief. The appointment of the new Chief is a decision that the DoD will have to make soon. It is a decision that must come from the Office of the Minister. There have been continual reminders from the former Chair that the replacement be appointed, but it has not yet been done.
The Committee also learnt the term of the Reserve Force Council had expired. The Committee, while impressing upon the Minister to speed up the process of appointing a new Council, also wanted to know the role of the RFC to be able to understand its added value as it pushes for the RFC appointment. The Committee was told that the RFC advises the Minister on all matters about the reserves and when policies are formulated the RFC is consulted. The RFC is always kept abreast on all issues on the reserves in the Department. However, it is not part of the command chain of the Reserve Force and has no authority over the reserves.
The Committee received a gloomy picture of the Reserve Force from both the Deputy Minister and the Acting Chief of the Reserve Force. The Deputy Minister had familiarised himself on the footprint, infrastructure and the conditions of the reserves. He visited all the regions to see the state of the reserves and shared his experience with the Committee.
General Niyabo referred to the reserves as an organisation that is dying. It is dying not only due to the average age cohort of the reserves but also its infrastructure. Almost every base where the reserves are accommodated is in a state of dereliction.
The Deputy Minister said as a result of the reserves being dealt with as a residual, there is no feeder system into the reserves for purposes of keeping citizens who are militarily proficient to be utilised any time. The reserves need to be approached with a clearer purpose of where and when they must be utilized because the reserves for the conventional function must be prepared. This means that the reserves must have the proficiency of any other soldier that is in the regular force. Here is a need for the consideration of the Mzansi Home Guard as suggested by the Reserve Force Council. The need is arising now because the country is facing domestic instability, with the possibility of insurgency activities. It will be economic to have soldiers who are geographically deployed to provide the assurance that the military is available everywhere it is needed.
The Committee learnt that not all is gloom because there is one base of the reserves the Minister visited in Cape Town called Fort Ikapa. Here the leadership of the defence implemented an ideal arrangement that has the infrastructure and shows how the reserves must be prepared. The leadership of the Defence Force at Fort Ikapa must be replicated in all the bases in the other regions of the country because that is a decent camp and centre for reserve deployment.
The Chairperson said the force design and structure should be understood within the One Force Concept looking at both the size and composition. The presentation yesterday focused exclusively on the equipment. There was nothing on the actual composition of the personnel of the defence force taking into account the One Force Concept. This should be revisited by the stakeholders as a team because due to time constraints yesterday the discussion was deferred to a later date in June in another closed meeting that will be held in Parliament. It will invite the Reserve Force to present in that meeting to enable a holistic view of the force in terms of both the Regular and the Reserve Force. This will look at the role of the Reserve Force in augmenting the regular force. What the General presented and what the Deputy Minister said are a shocker. The reserves are treated badly yet they play a central role in the defence of the country.
The budget also dominated the meeting as it is limiting the DoD in implementing its goals. As such, the Committee proposed a closed meeting in Cape Town to be able to deliberate on this so that the Department's plans align with the numbers agreed upon. This budget meeting will incorporate the budgets of both the Reserve Force and the Regular Force. This will also help facilitate the One Force Concept proposed in the meeting.
The Chairperson said the Committee was not aware that the Reserve Force Council's term of office had expired. He asked the Deputy Minister to shed light on why there are no new appointees, and why the term of the existing one was not extended until the vacancies have been filled. He noted that Brig Gen Zoleka Niyabo was the deputy of the former Chief, so when he stood down, she took over.
Deputy Minister’s opening remarks
Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla said the DoD is presenting on the status quo of the defence reserves and this contingent of the armed forces is without a properly constituted leadership. The former Chief of the SANDF Reserves General Anderson has retired, and General Niyabo has been Acting Chief. The Minister confirmed to the JSCD that General Niyabo’s performance as Acting Chief of Reserves has been remarkable. The appointment of the new Chief is a decision that the DoD will have to make soon. It is a decision that must come from the office of the Minister. He regrets that they are unable to give a positive report on the term of office for the Reserve Force Council under the chairmanship of General Keith Mokoape that ended at the end of last year. There have been continual reminders from the former Chair that the replacement be appointed. It is also an outstanding matter.
In the last Committee meeting on the Reserve Force, the Department shared that dialogue has commenced through the first Indaba on the Reserves. More than a year ago task teamwork streams were established for purposes of taking matters forward on the areas identified to be components of the new system to be proposed. After the presentation, he promised to share some remarks and information on the state of the SANDF Reserves the way he found it. Fortunately, during the intervening period since the last meeting on the reserves, he had an opportunity to familiarise himself on the footprint, infrastructure and the conditions of the reserves. He had visited all the regions to see the state of the reserves.
The Chairperson said the Committee will take the presentation, but it notes that the term of the Reserve Council has expired, and two and a half later has not been appointed. It can only be impressed upon the Minister to decide, and it is not certain that she has a choice whether to have it or not. If she has no choice, there is no discretion she must have the Reserve Council. The Committee would like to impress upon the Minister to speed up the process of appointing a new Council. There is a Council but there are no councillors. On the Chief of the Reserve Force, General Anderson retired some time back and the Committee was informed of the retirement, but his position remains vacant with General Niyabo in an acting position. Who else is in the leadership of the SANDF Reserve Force? He noted the good work that the Deputy Minister did in visiting the Reserves in all the provinces except for Natal, and the Committee appreciates that he shares the information on his experience.
Challenges facing the SANDF Reserves
Acting Chief of the SANDF Reserves, Brig Gen Zoleka Niyabo, gave the presentation.
Business case for the Reserves
The Reserves have proved to be cost effective. Providing 40-50% of the 14 Companies for Op Corona while only spending 7.6% of the total Item 10 budget in the SA Army. Reserves are not being paid when not on call-up. No hidden costs to the DOD. The Reserves are making and can continue to make a significant contribution to the development of the SANDF and the provision of specialist skills to the SANDF.
The SANDF Reserve Component is faced with the following challenges:
-The main challenge is the reduced man-day budget of 2.6m to 1.9m man-days. This is problematic as not all Force Employment goals can be fulfilled.
-There is a challenge of limited leader group development. Stagnation and lack of rejuvenation are the order of the day. Certain Services and Divisions cannot send people on courses because they have to prioritise between utilisation and development. This implies prioritisation in the allocation of man-days.
-There is a lack of a feeder system which results in an ageing force. The average age will continue to rise due to no rejuvenation taking place.
-Huge lack of resources for non-infantry units and loss of critical mass in other corps. Priorities need to be set in line with Force Design 2021.
-Supplementing the Regulars in Op Corona, Op Notlela, Op Prosper, and other operations providing guards and other administrative support with ±11 000 Reserve members at a cost of only 7.6% of the total Item 10 budget in the SA Army.
-Providing 40-50% of the Companies for Op Corona and provided 33% of the Companies for Op Notlela while spending only 7.6 % of the SA Army budget.
-The successful implementation of Project Koba-Tlala as well as the re-skilling of more than 1 127 Reserve members as part of this project from 2018/19 in security training, community development, and liaison, agri-related training, water and sanitation, water purification, firefighting, first aid. coding and data science provided by Gauteng Res PO.
-Members who were reskilled in water purification and sanitation are now being deployed as part of certain Operations.
Deputy Minister’s Remarks
Deputy Minister said General Niyabo has given a good presentation. He directed the Committee to the long list of challenges she shared. At the high level, the reserve system is a residual system meaning that it consists of the remnants of a system that was maintained to provide for reserve soldiers relying on the pre-1994 conscription policy. In the repositioned defence establishment in 1994, the policy said the reserves will be part of our armed forces going forward. There was never sufficient thought about how the new reserves will be organised. The point is how they were going to be sourced in the absence of a conscription system. That has partly led to what General Niyabo referred to as an organisation that is dying. It is dying not only due to the average age cohort of the reserves but also its infrastructure. Almost every base where the reserves are accommodated is in a state of dereliction and dilapidated. That is one point at the high level that the JSCD must appreciate. There is a concept that says the country must keep relatively modest levels of armed forces but provide for that surge capability that Genera Niyabo talked about, the ability to expand force levels when the need arises. The leadership needs to deal with this matter for real. The General referred to a business case for reserves, hence the leadership needs to raise public awareness of “those that deliberately in policy say let money be moved to other areas of government need; we will keep a modest Defence Force, but that modest Defence Force should not compromise the security and sovereignty of the country.” The numbers should be increased when the need arises to the level that is warranted.
The reserves are being treated as a nice-to-have organisation of soldiers, whereas it is part of fundamental things we must have. Increasingly, the Defence Force must perform domestically for the different call ups that have recently come about – but also for external deployment there is increasing reliance on the Reserve Force.
The Deputy Minister said if people do not understand, to simplify the matter, they should be told that half of the troops that are in function in border security are the reserves, and they make up to 50 percent of the forces. This will make the people appreciate them because it will indicate that without the reserves the country will not have soldiers to send to borderline security. For Op Notlela, when the Covid pandemic hit the country, over a third of the deployed troops were the reserves. Without the reserves, the Defence Force cannot execute functions that are expected. Since the reserves are treated as a nice-to-have, the standard of the organisation when you look at procedures and practices at the different reserve bases, there is still a lot that is informed by the origins of these reserves. For instance, you get a sense that the Tshwane reserve post was a reserve post of the commandos. The SANDF had the commandos but also had the citizens' force, and in their purpose and utilisation of these two, the commandos and the citizens' force were two different organisations for different purposes. But, those origins can still be seen when you look at the infrastructure of the Tshwane reserve which was for the commandos. It is makeshift for those who were just interested in being happy to assist the military, not that the military had established infrastructure for the accommodation and the preparation for the soldiers the way the citizens' force in other places had been prepared. As a result of the reserves being dealt with as a residual, there is no feeder system into the reserves for keeping citizens who are militarily proficient to be utilised at any time.
The Committee must take note that the reserves need to be approached with a clearer purpose of where and when they must be utilised because the General said the reserves for the conventional function must be prepared. This means that the reserves must have the proficiency of any other soldier that is in the regular force. We now need the Mzansi Home Guard as suggested by the Reserve Force Council. In the previous period after 1994, there was no sharp taste for these soldiers who in terms of their organisations and deployment are more linked to where they come from and where they live. It is arising now because the country is facing domestic instability, with the possibility of insurgency activities. It will be economic to have soldiers who are geographically deployed or organised to provide the assurance and comfort that the military is available everywhere it is needed. So, there is a need for the consideration of the Mzansi Home Guard.
The Deputy Minister confessed that he was one of those that took long to be won over to the idea because it represented to him what we have in the commandos. But now with the instability, there is a possibility of insurgency activities and also terrorism, which may be an intervention the Defence Force may benefit from. The other point was on the equipment of the reserves, where the bases are in very poor condition. The leadership cannot fail to be embarrassed by the conditions under which citizens are called up to execute onerous responsibilities that our soldiers are performing. It is a big indictment on the leadership. He happened to be one of the citizens who were in the liberation armies and is familiar with the wretched conditions under which guerilla armies had to live in and what they had to make do with, but he will not accept that this should be the conditions under which citizens of a conventional standing force must be subjected too. It is unacceptable.
There are no vehicles, and there is a whole base without a single car that is moving. He understands that we have a problem concerning weaponry that has to do with budget and the provision of resources for our defence function. The whole weapons systems are deployed as the prime mission equipment in the theatre of war where soldiers are deployed because that is what we can afford. What we can buy system-wise is what we give soldiers to fight with. Things being equal conventionally, the very same weapons systems need to be available for the relief group that is being prepared to relieve the one that is deployed. The same weapons systems should also be available for the training of those being prepared to execute the same responsibilities.
The weapon systems are not only to be used for fighting but for preparation and continuous training that the reserves must do. This is something that the JSCD has to look at because if soldiers are not adequately and professionally prepared, the outcome and results of that are well known. The JSCD carries a lot of responsibility on the conditions of the reserves. Not all is gloom because there is one base of the reserves he visited in Cape Town called Fort Ikapa. Here the leadership of the defence implemented an ideal arrangement for infrastructure and reserve preparation. For us to succeed the leadership of the Defence Force at Fort Ikapa must be replicated in the bases in the other regions of the country because that is a decent camp and centre for reserve deployment. He appealed to Committee Members to understand the state of our reserves.
The Chairperson said the Deputy Minister has augmented the case very well and coming from a person of his level, it makes the case very serious. The General said the dignity of the reserves must be restored, and the leadership, including the Committee, carry a lot of responsibility in respect to the state of the Reserve Force. The Deputy Minister went on to give an account of what he found on the ground, conditions he would not wish for anyone and are not fit for a force that will provide such capability to the regular force. It was well said and he thanked the Deputy Minister for sharing the information.
Mr M Shelembe (DA) said when one listens to what is happening in the world, one questions the mandate given to the DoD to ensure the safety of our country, citizens, and boundaries. Should we experience war, are we ready and do we have the capability? The reason he is asking is because of the challenges within the Department. They are experiencing challenges that are not convincing the people that they are protected. The Committee must agree that the intention to have the Reserve Force is to improve combat potential, but listening to the input by the Deputy Minister, one gets the impression that we are nowhere when it comes to combat readiness and capability.
It is clear that there is a problem with budget. He is unsure if it is about the Department failing to use what it has. If the Department keeps complaining, and yet it cannot use what it has properly, then it is not doing justice. The Reserve Force that we have seems not to be getting what the training it needs. There is no clear plan to get people some sort of employment where they can make an income at the same time as being able to assist the regular force when needed. What will be the impact of having the Reserve Force available? But now the decrease tells us that even the Military Skills Development System (MSDS ) programmes are not promising there is going to be any intake to address the current situation.
That means that the MSDS is not going to be of help now. He raised the budget in the meeting with the Minister saying that the budget must be attended to by DoD and National Treasury as a matter of urgency to ensure the defence of our country. No one is able to respond to the question of the MSDS because there is no money. The impact of that is going to be very serious. There is a problem with the system used when calling up Reserve Force members when needed. It is rumoured that some RF members are demoralised because they feel some of them are being called more often than others. How are we getting the budget to address these issues? Is it possible to reprioritise or start on zero budgeting where we start afresh to see how we prioritise the DoD budget?
Mr T Mmutle (ANC) said Mr Shelembe has emphasised the budget which is known to have implications for what has been presented in the meeting. He has one challenge. The presentation speaks to the force design and structure and the Reserve Force is an extension of the regular force in times of need. It is a very important component and there is a reason we should have a Reserve Force as outlined. The force design and structure should outline this because there are still challenges with the numbers of both the regular force and Reserve Force. The structure must depict the ideal situation to say we will have a force that is formidable when we have this number of the regular force and this number of the Reserve Force. This is so when the Committee advocates for more budget this should be inclusive. The focus should not only be on the regular force but include the Reserve Force as well. The presentation has given the Committee insight into what should be integrated into the campaign for lobbying for more funding for the Defence Force.
The Chairperson said he is realising only now that it was a mistake not to invite the Acting Chief of the Reserve Force to attend the meeting held with the top brass of the defence force to discuss force design and force structure. Force design and structure should be understood within the One Force Concept looking at both the size and composition. The presentation yesterday focused exclusively on the equipment that is preferred going into the future. There was nothing on the actual composition of the personnel of the defence force taking into account the One Force Concept. This should be revisited by the stakeholders as a team as due to time constraints yesterday the discussion was deferred to a later date in June in another closed meeting to be held in Parliament. It will invite the Reserve Force to present in that meeting to enable a holistic view of the force in terms of both the regular and the Reserve Force. This will look at the role of the Reserve Force in augmenting the regular force. What the General presented and what the Deputy Minister said are a shocker. The reserves are treated badly yet they play a central role in the defence of the country. This is central in both the presentation of the General and the information given by the Deputy Minister.
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) said the University Reserve Training Programme (URTP) sounded like a good programme because it was allowing newly qualified graduates to have skills and experience. Why was it discontinued? She agreed with the Chairperson about the Reserve Force Council, stating that the law does not allow a vacuum. The Deputy Minister has informed the Committee that they received several cautions from the former RFC Chair that the term was coming to an end, but nothing was done. There is no interim structure and it is not clear how far the Department is in filling the RFC positions. She proposed that the Committee mandates the Chairperson to take the matter forward with the Ministry to ensure compliance on the matter.
The Chairperson asked General Niyabo to brief the Committee on the leadership structure of the Reserve Force and the value add. The RFC has been out of office for five years. Looking at the deterioration the Deputy Minister and she referred to, what is the responsibility of the RFC? He asked to address that question in terms of value add to enable him to understand the RFC importance when he insists on its appointment.
Reserve Force response
General Niyabo replied that the Chief of the SANDF Reserves position she is acting in is the division in charge of the Reserve Force in the National Defence Force. It reports to the Chief of the SANDF when it comes to all Reserve Force matters. Her division provides strategic direction for the reserves and formulates policy for the reserves for the whole Department. In the Services, there are the four Directors of the Reserves, who are the big giants of the reserves and report to the Chief of the four Services like Chief of Army, Chief of Air Force, and Chief of Navy. In the division, there is the Chief Director which was previously General Anderson who has since retired and General Niyabo is acting in his place. She is the only General in the division currently and has four SSOs full Colonels who report to her: one is responsible for policy, one for support, one for promoting and marketing the reserves, and the other for all the projects being done for the reserves. She is currently the only Brigadier General at the headquarters of the Defence Reserve Division that is responsible for the reserves. She sits in the Military Council and the command bodies, in the Plenary Defence Force Council because she provides strategic direction for the reserves and also formulates policy. The RFC advises the Minister on all issues on the reserves and when policies are formulated the RFC is consulted.
The RFC is kept abreast on all issues on the reserves in the Department. All matters concerning the reserves fall on the Division of which she is Acting Chief until a successor to General Anderson is appointed. On the question of managing corruption in the reserves, her division was given the Ministerial Task Report and they highlighted concerns that pointed to the reserves. In trying to deal with these, they wrote to the Services saying the call-up administration of the reserves should not be left to one person as it was in the past. There should be call-up committees to eliminate the possibility of exploitation and abuse because if there are two people there will be allegations that a person is compelled to pay bribes to get a call up. The call-up committees consist of five members or more with clearly defined requirements on how and why a member should be called up, and there will be minutes and it will be recorded. This will eliminate corruption and the allegations of abuse in the reserves and the other items picked up in the report.
The General and her division are also chairing the Defence Reserve Board as Acting Chief of the Reserves where she monitors that the Services continue to implement all these measures suggested to eliminate corruption in the reserves.
On the ideal component, she said that according to the force component the Reserve Force must be 40% of the military structure. This is a practice the world over, and Milestone 1 of the Defence Review says there should be 40% for the reserve component. There is currently 30% in SA which the DoD is struggling to maintain.
She explained that the URTP was not discontinued, but the implementation was problematic because the services could not be afforded. It is still there and few members have been recruited in the past. It is not continuing but has not yet been officially discontinued. It is difficult to continue with it due to the budget available, particularly now with the 25% reduction of the budget. If the financial situation improves in the Department it will be continued because they believe in continuing with professionalising the Reserve Force component and the military at large.
Deputy Minister response
The Deputy Minister said the observations the Members made are correct. In response to Mr Shelembe, he said the DoD is going to tighten its belt as far as being very stringent in controlling where the resources are used in the Department. For obvious reasons, when you look at the leakages that happened with monies lost in the renovations of 1 Military Hospital and so on, there is a huge difference that can be made by the Defence Force. It insists on all stakeholders appreciating every rand that is received for the defence function. However, what is being talked about is the reserves. They are not only talking about infrastructure and resources but must also consider the man-days which budget has been cut from R2.6 million to R1.9 million. There are no leaks in that budget as it talks to the number of the soldiers that can be mobilised and deployed with that budget.
Deputy Minister Makwetla said the General made a point that the Department is unable to fulfil all the force employment goals since there is reliance on the Reserve Force but the budget of man-days has been slashed. It means there are certain things that the Defence Force cannot do because there is not the number of soldiers needed. This emphasises the point made by Mr Mmutle and the Chair that the budget needs to integrate the reserves. The reserves have to be dealt with as a one budget problem. The Chair indicated that the discussion held yesterday did not fully integrate the need of this other component of our organisation. It is a critical observation because the Generals may talk in a way that makes the Committee focus on the regular force. The truth is they make that omission so the Committee is not looking at the other organisation that makes it possible for SANDF to do the things it is doing. This means that the Committee will not make the right decisions.
On the leadership structure of the reserves, this has been responded to by General Niyabo. All he wanted to underline is that what the Chairperson is sensing is a legitimate concern. There has been an institutional imperfection about how the reserves leadership is handled. The RFC is there to advise the Minister, however, it is not the leadership of the reserves and does not appear anywhere in the chain of command or authority on matters that affect that community the way you would expect it to be. The reserves are controlled by the Director of Reserves that are in each of the four Services. The Army has its director of the reserve, the same applies to the Navy and the Air Force, and they report to the Chiefs of each Service. It is the Chief of the Army who decides how the reserves must be called up because the director there is accountable to the Chief of the Army. Similarly, the director of the Navy reports to the Admiral. Of course, there is the SA Chief of the Reserves, General Anderson, who is now temporarily replaced by General Niyabo.
General Anderson represented these Directors of Reserves in the four Services at the Military Command Council, not the RFC. The RFC does not sit at the Military Command Council. The person whom the Chief of the Defence Force considers a critical functionary for these purposes is the Chief of the Reserves who is now General Niyabo because she reports directly to the Chief of the Defence Force. That is why there is always now and again tension in the perspectives of what RFC members say and what the Chief of the Defence Reserves says because the Chief of the Defence Reserves says she is the one dealing with the reserves, not the RFC. She also does not report to the RFC. In the last Indaba held, General Niyabo refers to Indaba 1.5, which is correct because it was an incomplete dialogue. It is correct to say in that discussion the need to create some rapprochement to bring together the RFC and the structure under the Chief of the Defence Reserves has been appreciated.
The Deputy Minister's view in that discussion is that the Directors of the Reserves in the four Services should input into what the RFC considers as the policy that serves the reserves. If they are not part of that body, it creates an organisational misfit there. It is correct that structurally there have been deficiencies that were not functioning properly and there is an acknowledgment of that. On the lapse of the Department in constituting the RFC, the Minister said the Department will certainly make it a point that it moves with speed to get that done. He is not trying to give excuses, the truth is that the Minister even before she took medical leave in January has been struggling to be available because her health was pinning her down. That is why some of these items have remained unattended.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and suggested that the Committee leaves the matter there for now. It is in discussion with the Chief, the Secretary for Defence, and the Minister on the force design and force structure. The apologies of the Deputy Minister was noted yesterday that it did not focus on the personnel but was largely on the equipment. Thus missing in that presentation was the One Force Concept where you have the regular and the Reserve Forces playing a complementary role. The issue of numbers, training, resources, equipment, and conditions of the bases all become critical. Even more critical is the period they remain engaged actively in the service. Those are matters the General and Deputy Minister pointed out that if unaddressed, the Reserve Force will remain in name only. It is a risk to engage people in real action if they have not been fully prepared and trained. In some cases even the training on the equipment they would use remained theoretical until they had actual deployment. It is a serious situation the Committee needs to pay attention to.
He thanked the Deputy Minister for enlightening the Committee on the role of the RFC and said he was not sure if it was needed if there is the Chief of the Reserves. He thought part of her responsibility is to advise the Minister, the President, and the Chief of the Defence Force, so other than that he could not see how the advice from people from the side will assist the Board of the Reserve Force. The issue remains the interface between the RFC and the Chief of the Defence Reserve so that they do not send a parallel messages to the Minister and the President. There must be one message that goes up to the top.
There is no Regular Force Council that looks after that force, but there is a Reserve Force Council. He is not sure why and how it was conceived, but by law we need to have it and must fill those positions. The Chairperson told Members that the information tonight was sufficient and that the Deputy Minister played a critical role in firstly going to the bases, checking out what is happening on the ground, and coming to the Committee and presenting his experiences. It was very helpful. He thanked the Deputy Minister and General and promised to advise on the date for the next physical engagement that will be in Cape Town to deal with the budget. The issues discussed must find articulation in the budget that will be approved for 2022/23. It may be late to influence that budget now, but it will certainly influence the future budget.
General Niyabo responded that they always accompanied the Deputy Minister on his visits. All the structural deficiencies they picked up in the reserve units, they have started since last year to renovate with the budget they have. They are going one unit at a time and at the moment they are busy with the Tshwane regiment. They have done the unit in Mpumalanga and came across the Reserve Force ladies taking showers in the open and could be seen by passers-by. That structure was rebuilt, and they are now busy with Tshwane and it would have been done if it was not for the slow procurement process. All the Reserve Force units have been told during the visits that they will be assisted to improve their conditions. This is done with the Reserve Force budget every financial year since she has been Acting Chief.
The Chairperson said the General was not telling the Committee it took the Deputy Minister’s visit to attend to basics such as where women soldiers take a bath. Such has been left unattended for far too long. But that will be discussed during the budget meeting. He asked the Deputy Minister for his final word.
The Deputy Minister thanked the Chair and the Committee for their time in allowing him to share information about the SA Reserve Defence Force. The questions that the Committee raised are legitimate observations. There are matters for which answers must be found when they come back with the final proposal on the Reserve Force system function going forward.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and colleagues and released them.
Committee Annual Performance Report
Mr Peter Daniels, Committee Content Advisor, presented the Committee Annual Performance Plan. The presentation followed up on what was done last week in review of the report.
- State of 1 Military Hospital and repair and maintenance programme (RAMP).
- Implementation of the 1 Military Hospital Forensic Report recommendations.
- The role of Denel in supporting the SANDF.
- The declining budget and constraints placed on Defence to execute its obligations
- Coordination between SANDF and SAPS at especially provincial level in KZN
- Lack of strategic airlift capability for the SAAF which puts SANDF at operational disadvantage.
- The substantial reliance on SANDF and its decreasing ability to meet expectations due to the declining budget allocation.
The Chairperson commended the presentation saying it is well packaged and presented.
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) agreed with the Chair that the report was well presented. He saw a gap in the information where it talks about SANDF deployment in support of SAPS in maintaining law and order in combating the spread of Covid-19 and the Mozambique deployment. It is partly true but it was not the only deployment discussed in the past twelve months and the period under review. Other deployments were considered as well. He requested on the point made that the Committee would like to have the President's letters processed timeously, it needs to be captured that there is an ongoing discussion about the timing of these deployment letters from the Presidency. When the letters are received they need to be discussed promptly even if Members are in their constituencies.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Ryder and asked for Mr Daniels’ opinion on the matter.
Mr Daniels agreed with Mr Ryder and indicated that in the first section there is a reference to the other deployments as well, but maybe it is important later on to highlight them and refer to them in the recommendations. At the end they should also include the letters from the President.
The Chairperson said he was going to say hold on that iceberg because he has pre-empted Mr Ryder on the delay in the submission of the President's letter to Parliament. He has sought a legal opinion on it and it will be received sometime next week. He suggested that the point be left out and considered as under discussion.
Mr Ryder said his concern is more about the period between receiving the letter and the processing. He added that it was not only the SANDF deployment that was discussed but also the wellbeing of the troops, specifically the expired food and so on. It is important that it mentions that something needs to be done.
The Chairperson said he hoped that Mr Ryder was not stretching into another financial year. He asked Mr Daniels if it could be added to this report.
Mr Daniels replied it has been discussed and at one stage he suggested that the Minister should brief the Committee on the situation in Mozambique. That discussion has not been held, so during that time, it will be discussed.
The Chairperson said if it is not covered in this report it will be covered in the next annual report when the discussion on the matter will be concluded. Mr Ryder is correct in saying the concern is the delay. He has sought legal opinion to determine when the delay is considered unreasonable. That will be discussed on 18 March. He asked Mr Daniels to confirm that the Committee has done everything it set out to do, except those that are under consideration. He is happy that the Committee did not underperform on its plan.
Mr Daniels said although some issues will be incorporated as the Committee goes on, overall it has performed very well.
The Chairperson said he is happy that Members have not been sleeping on the job and have done well. It is not comparing itself with anyone but itself – its performance last year and the previous year. There is a great improvement and that makes him happy.
Mr Shelembe requested that the Chairperson consider the Committee’s return to Parliament as he felt that more work gets done there when meetings are done in person.
The Chairperson told him that he will be in Cape Town and still hold the meetings in his village because there are no Committee rooms at the moment. The meetings will continue on Zoom for the foreseeable future unless the Committee hires hotel venues to hold its meetings. There will be a return to Cape Town as soon as there are enough venues for all Committees; even Parliament is still held in the makeshift chamber.
Mr Mmutle said it is not going to be easy given the reasons that the Chair has provided, but perhaps in the next quarter, the Committee can look at the items that require the Committee to be physically present. The Castle has offered the Committee a venue that can be utilised for that.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mmutle saying the Committee can even go to other military places if necessary especially if a meeting is to be closed. The Committee has started and was in Pretoria yesterday at the military base and the budget meeting will be held in Cape Town in the Castle of Good Hope. It will be a closed meeting that may take the whole day because the budget needs to be resolved. He also wanted to complete the discussion on force design and structure. The budget must be discussed so that the figures approved speak to the plan going forward.
Minutes were also considered and adopted and the meeting ended.
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