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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 November 2004
FINAL INTEGRATION REPORT: SANDF BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Department Final Integration Report
Department report on public hearings
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) informed the Committee of the completion of the process of integration of former statutory and non-statutory forces. Only some bridging training was still to be completed by 2005. Members were concerned about the pensions paid to demobilised staff and the outstanding issue regarding the 'Coloured Corps'. Notwithstanding, the Committee congratulated the SANDF for the successful integration of seven different forces and thanked the British Government for its assistance.
SANDF Final Integration Report
Rear-Admiral JG Bakkes, the Director of Integration, explained that they had presented a final report to the Committee in April 2003 on the integration process. There had been a few questions which Members had raised at that meeting. The report before Members was therefore the same except that it had been expanded to address the concerns raised by Members at the time. He continued as in the presentation attached. He added that the integration process had brought together seven forces into the new South African National Defence Force. The last members had been integrated in 2002. At present, 50% of the SANDF were new members with no prior experience in any other force. Of the 31 173 non-statutory forces (NSF) that were integrated, 13 557 were still serving in the SANDF. He pointed out that in October 2001, the NSF gave more names that were not on the certified personnel registers (CPR). The Portfolio Committee at the time decided that these names could not be added for integration. Members from the NSF had undergone bridging training that would bring them to operate at the rank that they had been placed.
Brigadier-General E Moshoala, Deputy Chief Director: Army Corporate Services added that the bridging training was a once-off training programme. Individuals were placed on a rank by a committee based on their experience and training. This training was therefore aimed at preparing members of the NSF for the rank that they had been placed in. This would allow them to continue with their career path.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes continued by saying that the bridging training would be completed by 2005. No one had been forced to leave the forces even if they had failed some tests. Mentoring was taking place so that career development could take place.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked what the difference was between the terms "incorporation" for the KwaZulu-Natal Self Protection Force (KZSPF) and "integration" which was used for the NSF. There were also members of the Coloured Cape Corps who felt that they had been excluded from integration. He asked what had happened in their cases and why they had not been considered for integration.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) commented that nothing had been said about the long service pension for the NSF. He referred to the table in the presentation which showed the rank profile of the NSF. He asked what the rank profile of the statutory profile was so that they could compare the given statistics with something else.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) asked how many people were added to the list by the Minister for integration. He also added that the integration could not be said to be complete until all the bridging training was completed.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes said that in the negotiating process the agreement had been reached that those parties who were part of the democratic process would be integrated into the Defence Force. The IFP had only become part of the process quite late. The KZSPF had not been on the CPRs and therefore had 2000 members that had been incorporated and not integrated. This meant that they had joined the SANDF without the integration privileges.
Mr Ndlovu (IFP) asked if this meant that incorporation was different from integration. The Chairperson said that integration was in relation to people who were on the CPRs beginning in 1994. These forces had to have been part of the liberating military forces. The IFP entered the process later and had not claimed to have military forces. The KZSPF were actually policing forces. They were therefore incorporated and not integrated. Those who were integrated had certain rights, for example they had the same pension rights as those who had been in the old SADF.
Brigadier-General Moshoala said that the Coloured Corps were not separate from the rest of the SADF. The ones who had not been integrated were former members of the SADF.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes added that only people who had been serving on 21 April 1994 and whose names were on the CPRs were considered for integration. The Coloured Corps were a voluntary corps who served according to a contract. Those whose contracts had expired and were not in the service on 21 April 1994 were not considered for integration. These were the people that were unhappy. As far as pensions were concerned, the SANDF had agreed that members of the NSF would be credited for the time that they had served in those forces and would therefore get pensions. The legislation had been amended to allow for this. He could not comment on the progress that had been made in this regard.
Brigadier-General Mashoala said that the pension system was in process and that some people had already been paid. If people had joined MK in 1961 the service would be regarded as up to date.
Dr M Ledwaba, Chief Director HR Policy and Planning, said that the pension fund process was a way of levelling the field. The year that a person entered the liberation movement would be regarded as the year that the service started. This was done so that there would not be a huge variance between those who had been part of the NSF and those who had been part of the SADF. This only applied to those who had been integrated in 1994. Currently the broader public service was also trying to get into the system.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes said that he could not comment on the rank profile of the statutory forces. He added that 141 members still had to complete their bridging training. They had been informed that this would be completed by 2005. The Committee would have to decide if they would need to come back once this had been done.
Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) said that he was aware that there were some members who had been re-ranked and who had not been placed appropriately. These members were very frustrated. He asked for clarity on this.
Mr M Booi (ANC) asked what had happened about those members who had allegedly been integrated fraudulently. He also wanted to know what was being done to the Cape Corps plight as they were still raising concerns. He asked how the Department of Public Service and Administration fitted into the pension process as mentioned earlier in the meeting.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked if the training that the NSF had received outside of the country had been taken into account by the British Military Assistance Training Team (BMATT). The aim of integration was to produce a force in which it would not be possible to determine who had been NSF and who had been SADF. Some were complaining however that their force number indicated where members had come from.
Brigadier-General Mashoala said that it was true that there were some members who had been re-ranked but not placed as yet. This was because they were currently empowering them to operate in their level. This was being done through the bridging process. There was no discrimination taking place. They were being mentored and prepared for their position.
The Chairperson asked how long this process would take. Brig Gen Mashoala said that once the bridging training had been completed, they would be placed. It was not possible to give specific dates as different ranks would take different times.
Mr Sayedali-Shah (DA) said that it seemed as if there was a misalignment between the qualification and the job. He asked why they had then been re-ranked in the first place. The Chairperson said that this was a different question and could not be answered.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes said that the fraudulent cases had been investigated, but it was found that no fraud had been committed. He went on to explain that the Cape Corps was short service personnel who served a two-year contract. Those whose contracts were not renewed by 21 April 2004 had not been integrated.
The Chairperson said that if a contract was continually renewed, according to labour law, the person should be regarded as being permanent.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes said that the issue of people who had been demobilised but had not received their pensions was outside the ambit of integration and should be dealt with in another forum.
Dr Ledwaba added that those who had been demobilised after they had joined the Department of Defence were considered for the NSF pension. They would however have to pay back some money so that those people who were still in service and only retired later, were not disadvantaged. The special pension fund had the same arrangement. In this case people had to pay 5% of the years that they were not officially in the Department.
Mr J Phungula (ANC) commented that those people who had been re-ranked needed to be 'fast-tracked'.
The Chairperson said that it was important to find the appropriate channels for those who felt that they had been treated unfairly and ranked incorrectly. This would have to be dealt with in the following year. It was not a good idea for these matters to go to court. There was a need for an ombudsman to deal with these grievances.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes continued and said that one of the nine criteria used to rank people was the foreign courses that people had done. He also said that force numbers had been an issue. The possibility of changing numbers was investigated but it was found that it would cost millions. He was not sure if it still was an issue. He hoped that people were forgetting other people's backgrounds and that they were all seeing each other as one SANDF.
Mr L Diali (ANC) referred to the special pension and the fact that people were expected to pay back a certain amount. The problem was that many people did not have money left to pay anything back. He wanted to know what the process was for people to pay these monies back.
Mr P Groenewald (FFP) said that there had been a newspaper report stating that 77 colonels, of which 76 were white, had been informed that they were being retrenched. He asked if this was part of the integration process or if it was something different.
Mr Ndlovu (IFP) said that the ranking and the force numbers were discriminatory. This needed to be changed.
Mr Booi (ANC) asked how the completion of the integration in 2005 would fit in with the force design.
The Chairperson said that he felt that the last question was one which had to be dealt by the Defence Review.
Mr Monareng (ANC) said that he was not convinced by the argument involving the demobilisation and pensions.
The Chairperson said that people who were demobilised were never integrated.
Brigadier-General Mashoala said that the 77 people who were being retrenched were not part of integration. This was part of the transformation process in which the Government's imperatives were being followed.
Lieutenant-General Binda, Chief of Joint Support, said that the SANDF had no precedent on which it could benchmark when it began the integration process. It had been like a military operation. There had been problems and it had been painful as well. They had done the best out of a very complex process.
Dr Ledwaba said that to be demobilised, people had to be on the CPR. Some were given special pensions. Those who were paying back their pensions had two options in which to do this; either they could pay in a lump sum or it could be deducted from the amount that they would receive.
Rear-Admiral Bakkes asked whether the Committee accepted it as a final report or whether they would have to report again.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would decide whether it was final or not. He said that the integration process had been a remarkable process. It was a complex and sensitive one. To bring seven forces together into one was a big job. In most other countries it was normally just two forces that had to be integrated. He thanked the British government for helping. He also congratulated the SANDF for a job well done. This was probably the final report unless something else occurred before April 2005 when the bridging training would be complete. There was a need for finality to be reached. It was important to look at the issue of the ex-servicemen in the following year.
Department Report on Public Hearings
Mr N Sendall, Chief Director: Defence Policy, said there had been a great amount of convergence between the Department, the Committee and all other organisations that had participated in the public hearings. The architecture of the document that had been presented to the Committee previously, had been amended so that it addressed the concerns raised at the public hearings. This was indicated in the document attached. He stressed that this was still work in progress. Chapters One and Two would be kept as is with the added sections that addressed the concerns raised. Chapter Three was a new one and considered the previous two chapters and then looked at the implication for defence policy. Chapter Seven would be re-aligned to address issues raised by civil society. He emphasised that what had been given to the Committee was a proposal and was not complete yet.
The Chairperson commended the Department on the report and said that it met the Committee's requirements. He reminded the Committee that it would be visiting the Swartklip site the following day. This was to investigate comments made by the CEO of Denel, in the media, that the site was unsafe and unhealthy. Either it should be closed down or it should be improved. He also reminded the Committee that it still had five reports to consider viz., the Swartklip visit, the Department budget, the MTF process, the following year's programme and the Committee's Annual Report.
The meeting was adjourned.