Integration Progress Report and Preparedness of SANDF

Defence

03 April 2001
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Meeting report

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE
3 April 2001
INTEGRATION PROGRESS REPORT AND PREPAREDNESS OF SANDF

Chairperson: Mr J N Mashimbye assisted by Mr LV Ngculu

Relevant Documents:
South African National Defence Force Integration Progress Report to the Parliamentary Integration Oversight Committee

SUMMARY
The Committee discussed the Integration Progress Report recently presented to the Parliamentary Integration Oversight Committee by the chairperson of the integration committee, General Masondo, in Pretoria.

The Committee decided that due to time constraints they could not deal with all the issues in the report including the state of the defence force as Parliament is going into recess. It was decided that Committee should meet in recess and deal with the important issues in the PIOC report, especially the state of preparedness of the SANDF, as a workshop is planned in May. Administrative problems were identified as one of the major obstacles to integration. There were problems with certain names in the Certified Personnel Register, acceptance of the ranking of NSF soldiers and the controversy around the Tempe incident.

MINUTES
Mr Ngculu, speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Integration Oversight Committee, noted that although the Integration Progress Report report was written in 1999/2000, the issues in it were discussed with the Parliamentary Integration Oversight Committee only on 26 March 2001. The Department has promised the committee they would provide an updated report within two weeks.

In the report, General Masondo identified administrative problems as one of the major obstacles characterising the integration process. He highlighted problems with the Certified Personnel Register where people sharing the same names found one of their names scrapped . Another problem was that acceptance of ranking, especially for people from the Non Statutory Forces.

Mr Ngculu asked Mr Ndlovu to elaborate. Mr Ndlovu (IFP) said that when General Masondo had briefed the committee delegation, he had noted certain issues:
- The difficulty regarding similar names
- The problem with the group of people called "Angolans" which was merely a means of identifying themselves as former MK soldiers who had lived and trained in Angola during the liberation struggle. However certain army officers thought they were really Angolans who were illegal immigrants wanting to join the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). This problem was later solved.
- The problem of ranking. There is still a belief that the only people who integrated were from the NSF, and those from the statutory force did not integrate. He said this perception should be corrected as both forces have integrated into the new SANDF. This perception has resulted in certain NSF officers not being regarded as qualified for their ranks. They were told that they needed to prove themselves in order to qualify for their positions. It took a long time to clarify how certain people held these positions from the NSF.

Mr Ndlovu then spoke about General Masondo's comments on the Tempe shooting. According to General Masondo, the Tempe incident was blown out of proportion. Before the Tempe shooting, a similar incident had occurred in the Northern Province where six people were killed. Since these six people and the person who shot them were all black, the incident was not given attention. However as the Tempe shooting had involved a black officer shooting white officers, it was given wide media coverage.

Mr Ndlovu said that if a white soldier fights with white soldier or a black soldier fights with another black soldier, it is believed that they can sit down and resolve the matter. But when a white soldier fights with a black soldier, it is perceived as a serious problem.

Mr Ndlovu said it should be expected that young women and men from different cultural backgrounds and histories will experience problems living together. He made the point that these young women and men should be disciplined in the same way and not treated differently because one is from another culture. Mr Ndlovu noted that women make up fourteen percent of the SANDF.

Discussion
Mr Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know if there is any further statistical breakdown of this figure of fourteen percent women in the SANDF. He also asked for further details on the shooting that occurred in the Northern Province, such as when and on which base.

Acting Chairperson Ngculu said no further statistical breakdown of women in the SANDF has been done. He said these issues need to be discussed in the next meeting. Similarly, with the Northern Province shooting, the incident had been given no further explanation.

Mr Theron (DP) said he is worried that the report calls for the rationalisation of the SANDF to allow for a smaller and more efficient force. But in another paragraph the report says 30% of the forces have not completed their basic training. He asked how we can expect a smaller and more efficient force if there is such a large number of soldiers who still have to undergo basic training. Mr Theron said these problems were supposed to have been solved long time ago.

Mr Ndlovu said the issue of rationalisation comes after demobilisation. As of now any person who wants to get out of the army does so through demobilisation. Mr Ndlovu said the documents show there are about 13 000 people who were supposed to be integrated but did not show up. After the cut off date for integration in September nobody will be allowed to integrate. This means the number will be kept down.

Mr N Gogotya (ANC) commented that the SANDF will always experience language problems. He said there are instructors who deliberately refuse to give instructions in English.

A DP member asked Mr Gogotya if there are any reported incidences of what he claims.

Mr Gogotya said he was not in a position to cite incidences, and what he said is based on what is written in the report. It says, "some Afrikaans speaking instructors are reluctant to teach in English".

An ANC member argued that the PIOC report says nothing about staffing, and said the reason for the bridging training is to ensure there is parity in the defence force. She said the committee should be told how far the SANDF staffing process is.

She added that the British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) report raises a number of issues that could have helped SANDF in avoiding certain problems, adding that it would be better for the BMATT to come and brief the committee. Problems such as delays in payment and soldiers not being sent to courses, especially those from the NSF.

Mr Ndlovu said the committee from its inception was told that the BMATT reports directly to the Minister and it is the Minister who will come to parliament to brief it on the work done by BMATT. The committee cannot just invite BMATT directly.

Without responding directly to the question of training courses, Mr Ndlovu said General Masondo indicated there were structures put up after the investigation of the Tempe shootings. These structures are to focus on training people in understanding the different cultures in the defence force.

Chairperson Mashimbye argued not much has been done. To find that defence is still sitting with these problems means little has been done. He said there is a planned workshop after the break that will deal with issues related to course design and the new suggestions around national service. He added they cannot deal with those issues unless they have dealt with the state of the defence force. He told the committee that they are under pressure so there is a need to meet during the parliamentary recess, but this depends on committee members themselves and the parliamentary authorities. He said before the end of the week he will inform members on how future meetings will be held

Chairperson Mashimbye told the committee he thinks the country should benefit from the lesson of the integration that took place between the former East and West Germany. He said he had discussions with the Germans and he felt South Africa could learn a lot from them.

Chairperson Mashimbye also said although committees are not encouraged to meet during parliamentary recess he would suggest his committee should meet. The committee unanimously agreed to meet during recess to deal with outstanding issues in the PIOC report as well as the state of preparedness in the defence force. The next meeting was scheduled for 17 April immediately after the Easter weekend.

The meeting was adjourned.

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