Department of Defence Budget 2005/6; Meeting with French Defence College

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Defence and Military Veterans

07 March 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
8 March 2005
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE BUDGET 2005/6; MEETING WITH FRENCH DEFENCE COLLEGE

Chairperson:
Prof K Asmal (ANC)

Relevant document
Department of Defence Budget: Vote 21
Department Presentation on 2005/6 Budget

SUMMARY
Following a brief introductory address by the Deputy Minister of Defence, the Department outlined the fundamental policy shifts that occurred during the period under review, the trends and key policy areas, the Department’s budget priorities and budget allocations, the 2005/6 estimates of national expenditure, the strategic overview and key policy objectives, the Department’s defence policy options and the Department’s budget submission per programme as published in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE).

During the discussion Members sought clarity on the following issues:
- whether a percentage breakdown of the changes in allocation from the Department’s 2004/5 budget to the 2005/6 budget could be provided;
- the reason for the unauthorised expenditure for 2005 of R25,9 million;
- the reasons for the proposed amendment of the Defence Special Account Act of 1974;
- the reason for the increase in the legal services expenditure from R42 million in 2004/5 to R80 million in 2005/6;
- the reasons for the need for additional funding for capital investment in the infantry for 2009;
- the incentive scheme introduced to retain qualified personnel in the Department’s air defence and special forces sub programmes;
- why R55 million was to be spent for the maintenance of medical reserve stock;
- the reason for the 19.1% increase in the joint logistical service allocation, when the significant amount of R300 million was already allocated for peace support initiatives;
- progress made with the Department’s exit plan;
- implementation of the South African standby forces;
- the losses recorded by the Department with regard to military vehicles;
- the reasons for the unused sea hours;
- the reason for the substantial drop in expenditure on training per programme from 2004 to 2005 of R95 million to R74 million, most notably with regard to land training;
- the pattern of increased and decreased savings levels in the Special Defence Account;
- whether the Department had the necessary personnel complement to man the Rooivalk helicopters;
- the lack of internal Departmental compliance with Treasury requirements;
- the Department’s lack of an integrated computer system;
- the areas that would be upgraded by the R65 million allocated for addressing its ammunition sites;
- the Department’s plan to retain skilled black employees that were being lost to the commercial world and
- the Department’s HIV/AIDS expenditure.

Visiting senior officials from the French Defence College were briefed on the workings of the Defence Portfolio Committee, parliamentary oversight and South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

MINUTES
French Defence College
The Chairperson welcomed the delegation from the French Defence College and provided them with an overview of the following matters pertaining to the South African constitutional democracy:
- the structure of the South African government and the three different spheres;
- the role and structure of Parliament;
- the South African election system;
- the operations of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, especially its oversight function;
- the role and function of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially the role of the Department of Defence;
- the process leading to the 1996 White Paper on Defence and its aims;
- the structure and role of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF); and
- South African peace-keeping initiatives.

The French delegation in term posed the following questions to the Chairperson for comment:
- South Africa’s operations in the African region;
- its anti-terrorism legislation;
- the extent of the Defence Budget;
- the participation of the South African government in the United Nations peace-keeping initiatives; and
- South Africa’s defence priorities.

Department 2005/6 Budget
Introduction by Chairperson
The Chair stated that the Department had given excellent co-operation to National Treasury in compiling the budget documentation.

Introductory comments by Deputy Minister
Mr M George, Deputy Minister of Defence, apologised for the Minister’s absence as he was meeting with the Angolan Minister of Defence who was visiting Cape Town. The Department considered its Budget and the budgetary process very seriously because, at some stage, the Department would need this Committee to assist it in acquiring additional funds. The Department also took the issue of oversight very seriously as the Department was currently facing many challenges, especially the transformation process. He stated that he would have to leave the meeting to attend the Cabinet Committee, and would return should time permit.

Briefing by Department
Mr Masilela, Secretary for Defence, informed the Committee that the Department’s CFO could not be present as he was in a very important meeting with National Treasury in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts. It was thus requested that he be excused to focus on that matter.

He stated that the presentation outlined the fundamental policy shifts that occurred during the period under review, the trends and key policy areas, the Department’s budget priorities and budget allocations.

Mr Engelbrecht: Director: Budget, outlined the Department’s 2005/6 estimates of national expenditure, the strategic overview and key policy objectives, the Department’s defence policy options and the Department’s budget submission per programme as published in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE).

Mr Masilela added that, apart from the updating of the White Paper on Defence and the Defence Review, a very comprehensive study was conducted on the structure and processes within the Department which was aimed at overhauling the entire Chapter 9 of the Defence Review. It focused on efficiency and effectiveness and better utilisation of the Department’s resources.

The Department continued to face problems in its human resource operations in the area of employer initiated exit mechanisms. The Department was currently engaged with the Department of Public Service and Administration in attempting to address this.

The ammunition disposal plan was an important initiative and, although R65 million was allocated this year, a total of R100 million was in fact required each year.

Discussion
The Chair requested the Department to provide a percentage breakdown of the changes in allocation from the Department’s 2004/5 budget to the 2005/6 budget.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that this could be provided, especially for the Special Defence Account (SDA). The 2004/5 SDA allocation was R7 billion and currently stood at R9 billion, but he did not have the actual percentage readily available.

The Chair stated that the reference to ‘political direction’ in the presentation be removed, as this was not technically correct. The Minister was the political head of the Department.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that the terminology could be easily changed.

The Chair suggested that the reference made in the presentation to ‘transfer payment’ also be changed, as it created the impression that funds were transferred out of the Department to NGO’s for example. It should instead be made clear that transfers were made within the Department.

The Chair asked the Department to explain its unauthorised expenditure for 2005 of R25,9 million.

Mr Masilela responded that the over-expenditure arose in the context of the additional peace-support operations that arose during the course of the previous financial year, which were not initially foreseen by the Department. It amounted to approximately R105 million which Treasury in fact compelled the Department to re-prioritise. The final figure was then reduced to R25 million.

Mr O Monareng (ANC) sought clarity as to the reasons for the proposed amendment of the Defence Special Account Act of 1974, as indicated in the presentation.

The Chair stated that the presentation indicated that this amendment Bill had been forwarded to Parliament, yet the Committee had not seen it at all.

Mr Masilela replied to these two questions by stating that the amendment was aimed at increasing accountability by the Minister and Secretary for Defence. He stated that he was under the impression that the Bill had in fact been received by the Chair, but the matter would be pursued.

Mr Engelbrecht added that the amendment was proposed by Treasury as the Minister of Finance indicated at the time of signing off on the 2005 SDA that he saw no reason why he should take co-responsibility for the expenditure of the SDA, as the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) clearly indicated that both the Minister of the Department of Defence as well as its accounting officer needed to bear that responsibility. In consultation with Treasury the amendments would remove any reference to the Minister of Finance in the SDA Act, and thus the final allocation of the SDA would henceforth be authorised by the Minister of Defence alone.

He stated that he was unfortunately not in a position to explain why the documentation had not yet been forwarded to the Committee. He was however aware that this matter had been discussed by Cabinet in November 2004 and it supported the proposed amendments.

The Chair stated that a possible explanation could be that the Bill might have been forwarded to Parliament’s Finance Portfolio Committee by mistake.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) sought an explanation on the increase in the Department’s legal services expenditure from R42 million in 2004/5 to R80 million in 2005/6.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that R100 million was added to the budget as a legacy adjustment when staff moved from the different arms of service into a single environment. An additional R80 440 was added to the Department’s budget for the taking over of the human resource service within the legal services division, an amount of R226 000 was added for the new home owners allowance dispensation, a total of R1.6 million was added for the new pension fund contribution dispensation, R3.1 million was added for the carry-through cost of salary increases as well as R2.3 million for the improvement in the conditions of services. The final factor was the adjustments made to salaries.

The Chair asked the Department to explain the proportion of that expenditure that was allocated to legal staff outside the Department, as the expenditure on consultants was rather small.

Mr Masilela replied that he did not have the precise figures at the meeting, but they would be provided to the Committee at a later date.

Dr G Koornhof (ANC) stated that it was only the third time since 1994 that the percentage of government expenditure on defence was greater than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and this was to be applauded. Secondly, he asked the Department to explain why the additional funding for capital investment in the infantry for it to comply with the increased demand for peace missions was only needed in 2009. Furthermore, if these funds were only needed in 5 years time when a new Parliament would be sitting, the Department was asked to explain at what point it planned to discuss this allocation with the Portfolio Committee.

Mr Masilela responded that programmes were already unfolding, such as the upgrading of the Department’s tanks system. The Department was only at the stage at which it had not entered into contractual arrangements, but the projects were all at a very advanced level. All this information could be shared with Members, as well as the projected expenditures and dates for the actual commissioning.

Dr Koornhof stated that this was an important matter because the expenditure only came into effect when the next Parliament was in session, yet the expenditure was being requested this year.

Moulana M Sayedali-Shah (DA) sought clarity on the incentive scheme introduced to retain qualified personnel in the Department’s air defence and special forces sub programme.

Brigadier General De Wet, Director: Human Resources, replied that one of the Department’s strategic issues was the retention of scarce skills. Two of the areas that the Department had identified as needing scarce skills were the fields of technical expertise in the South African Navy and the South African Air Force, which included the artisans and the engineers. The second area was the Special Forces. The incentive schemes implemented for these areas were in the form of a monetary value in the form of an allowance that was introduced during the 2003/4 financial year.

Moulana Sayedali-Shah asked the Department to explain the SDA expenditure on defence intelligence foreign visits and the certain sensitive activities referred to, but the Department did not need to disclose any confidential information.

Mr Masilela responded by assuring Members that all the special arrangements were fully audited, and full disclosure was made to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.

Moulana Sayedali-Shah asked the Department to explain what was meant by "CMI service" under its Joint Support sub programme because it was a substantial amount, at approximately 35.7% of the total budget.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that the correct abbreviation was CCMI which referred to the Command and Control Management Information Capability. It dealt primarily with the following capabilities: the normal communication infrastructure of the Department and the second referred to the Department’s information technology requirements.

Moulana Sayedali-Shah asked the Department to explain why R55 million was to be spent for the maintenance of medical reserve stock.

Major General Ramlakan, Director: Military Strategy, responded that the funds were technically use to maintain the medical stock. The reality of the matter was that presentation 1994 the medical service held the country’s reserve pharmaceuticals stock for all the provincial and national departments. Towards the end of the 1990’s agreement was reached for the Department to maintain a reserve for deployments, and required the Department to be self-sufficient with regard to medical care. The lengthy procurement system to which the Department was subjected also applied to deployments, and the reasoning was to maintain the reserves so that the Department did not compromise health care of the troops deployed. The second factor was that the amount itself was subject to medical inflation of some 15% per year, and this also needed to be accommodated in the budget.

Moulana Sayedali-Shah asked whether the increase in the Department’s special health service was due to a specific disease.

Mr S Huang (ANC) sought clarity on the difference between the two separate figures of R37.6 million and R0.3 million allocated to acquisition service, as indicated in the presentation.

Rear Admiral Verster, Chief Director: Acquisitions, replied that the R37.6 million referred to the entire acquisition division’s corporate budget, needed to organise nearly R8 000 million of the SDA on the acquisition of weapons systems. The amount of R0.3 million referred to the acquisition projects that fell under the joint support programme. It was a negligible amount and had nothing to do with acquisition management.

Mr Huang asked the Department to explain the reason for the 19.1% increase in the joint logistical service allocation, when the significant amount of R300 million was already allocated for peace support initiatives.

Mr A Visser, Chief Director: Strategic Management, responded that the proper figure was in fact R800 million. The Department was allocated a total of R700 million for the current financial year and R500 million for the 2005 financial year, but this allocation was insufficient and an additional R200 million was awarded and a further R100 million was awarded for contingency operations to be conducted during 2005. It was for these reasons that the total allocation for 2005 stood at R800 million, and the presentation indicated the additional R300 million requested in addition to the R500 million that was initially awarded to the Department.

Mr M Booi (ANC) asked the Department to outline its exit plan and the progress made thus far.

Brigadier General De Wet replied that the rejuvenation of the human resource component of which the exit plan was a component related to the Department’s Human Resource Strategy 2010, which was presented to this Committee late last year. The inflow through the military skills development system was well underway, and just under 4 000 young people were part of the programme as at January 2005 and were currently busy with their basic training. The other element was to create the necessary capacity within the Department’s human resource system through the exit plan. A very comprehensive rejuvenation appreciate project had just been completed in the four services and 12 options were developed to deal with the exit aspect.

At the heart of the exit plan was the exit mechanism which dealt with departmental mechanisms such as pension funds. The Department had already developed its mechanism in conjunction with the Department of Public Service and Administration as well as National Treasury, and was currently under discussion in the Military Bargaining Chamber (MBC). Approximately 10 days ago the Secretary Defence met in person with the chairperson of the MDC in an attempt to convince the chairperson to expedite the process to finality. It was hoped that the Department’s exit mechanism would be in place come 1 April 2005, although it was on a voluntary basis.

Mr Booi asked the Department to explain why it was training 144 supernumeries for potential redeployment, and how this fit into the Department’s exit plan.

The Chair asked the Department to explain when the exit plan was formulated and when it was submitted to the MBC.

Mr Masilela replied to these two questions by stating that the Department was supposed to present to Parliament on 12 April 2005 on its Human Resource Strategy 2010, and many of the questions raised by Members could be addressed then.

The Chair agreed. He requested the Department to inform Members during the briefing on 12 April what exactly would be included in the Defence Amendment Bill, especially in relation to the military arbitration board.

Mr Booi sought clarity on the allocation to the St Johns ambulance brigade.

Major General Ramlakan replied that the Department used the services of the Red Cross to instruct the Department on international and humanitarian law. The St johns ambulance was used for the training of operational emergency care orderlys. The Department enjoyed an interactive relationship with St Johns ambulance, for which it made a transfer payment.

Mr Booi sought clarity on the Department’s continued funding of the San community project.

Mr Masilela responded that this project fell under the government of the Northern Cape province. The San community was occupying land owned by the Department and were subsequently removed and shifted to other land. As a contribution to their resettlement the Department pledged a once-off allocation of R9 million over a 3 year period.

Mr Ndlovu (ANC) sought clarity on the progress made with regard to the implementation of the South African standby forces.

The Chair informed Members that the standby forces would be making a complete presentation to this Committee at a later date, and this question should thus be held over till then. He asked the Department to explain the expenditure for its peace-keeping initiatives.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that for the 2003/4 year a total of R422 million was allocated for detachment in Burundi, and that amount had been reduced to R332 million for the 2004/5 year specifically to make provision for the contribution of the United Nations and the African Union which would no longer be a direct responsibility of South Africa. This then escalated with regard to projected inflation rates and requirements, and was also based on the current deployment strength. Furthermore any reimbursement received by any troop-contributing nation from the United Nations or the African Union specifically, would be returned to the National Revenue Fund (NRF). It was for this reason that the Department’s peace support operations were deemed to be fully funded as the funds would be returned to the NRF.

The presentation indicated that the allocation for the Department’s peace-keeping missions in Sudan were not specifically incorporated for the current financial year because the budget was drafted and submitted by August in the previous year. The Department did however require funds for less than one month, and would be funded as a risk within the Department itself.

The Chair asked the Department to explain the reasons for the different allowances paid by different government departments.

Brigadier General De Wet responded that when a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) he was granted a military circumstances allowance, and this was unique to a military person who was deployed either within the country or outside its borders. There was also the foreign dispensation deployment allowance, which was prescribed in the financial manual and was exactly the same as any other government official who was deployed abroad. It was calculated in terms of the currency and exchange rate of the country concerned, which could change from time to time.

Mr Ndlovu asked the Department to explain its plans for the implementation of the early warning systems.

Mr Masilela replied that this matter was being discussed with the southern African region as a whole. The centre must be established and the SADC peace-keeping missions must be capacitated.

Mr C Burgess (ID) sought clarity on the budgetary allocations to the navy and army bands.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that the bands were an integral part of one of the sub programmes, and the Department would have to drill down a bit deeper to extract the exact figure. The Committee will be informed of the figures.

Mr Burgess stated that there was no indication in the presentation of the Department’s motor vehicles as a special item in the budget.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that this was also a specific one line item in a budget which consisted of about 3 000 different items, and that kind of detailed expenditure was not contained in the budget documentation. That kind of detail could however be made available to Members.

Mr Masilela added that all these details were included in the Department’s Annual Report.

The Chair stated that such detail must be provided in order for the Committee to properly exercise its oversight function.

Dr Koornhof informed Members that the losses recorded by the Department with regard to military vehicles in particular was to be discussed by SCOPA.

Major General Ramlakan responded that the nature of the losses was described in great detail in the Department’s financial statements. It essentially amounted to R18.5 million. It also indicated that there were approximately 1 225 cases relating to motor vehicles that amounted to R11 million, 2 cases of military aircraft damage etc. All government departments were required to disclose information on losses in their Annual Reports.

Dr Koornhof stated that the presentation indicated that a total of 12 491 sea hours were logged during 2003/4 years against a target of 30 000, which was substantially less. He sought the reasons for the unused hours.

Rear Admiral Verster replied that the navy would be in a better position to answer, but stated that the navy suffered during the period because many of the ships were not properly maintained due to the pressure placed on the operating budget of the navy and air force over the past few years. The result was that, in the options presented for the adjustments budget, the navy actually raised this matter and was not allocated sufficient funds for the operating budget.

Dr Koornhof stated that the presentation indicated that the target for the 2005/6 year was 18 000, and asked when the new ships purchased would be utilising the sea hours and whether it was budgeted for in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF).

Rear Admiral Verster responded that the first Corvette, the SAS Amatola, would available on 11 October 2005, the SAS Isandlwana on 17 February 2006, the SAS Spionkop on 6 June 2006 and the last ship on 10 August 2006. Thus all four ships will be operational by August 2006. The allocation for the 2005/6 year was increased so that the necessary operational functions could be provided for.

Mr Masilela added that the joint operations themselves did not meet the sea hours targets.

Dr Koornhof stated that there was a substantial drop in expenditure on training per programme from 2004 to 2005 of R95 million to R74 million, most notably with regard to land training. He sought clarity on the kind of training referred to.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that the Department would be spending R73.9 million on training in 2005/6, which excluded items such as salaries, bonuses, allowances and infrastructure. The allocation included allocations for skills development programmes and related issues as well. There would thus be a discrepancy between the figure in the presentation and the detailed figure in the various sub programmes, because the composition was different. The detailed breakdown could be provided to Members.

Dr Koornhof stated that the detailed breakdown was not needed, merely the trend.

Mr Masilela responded that the Department would provide greater detail on the decrease in training expenditure at a later date.

Mr Huang sought clarity on the pattern of increased and decreased savings levels in the SDA.

Major General Ramlakan replied that these savings were not allocated to the Department but were instead arrangements made with Treasury, foreign institutions, local financial institutions etc. and were heavily dependent on the exchange rate at a particular point in time. The Department had entered into different contract up to 2012 and it had to deliver on these at set times, which were entered into on a yearly basis. The prevailing exchange rates determined whether there would be a saving or not.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) sought clarity on the fines and penalties that increased to R16 million.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that this was contained in the budget document, as required from all government departments.

Mr Monareng asked the Department to explain how many Rooivalk helicopters it had purchased.

The Chair asked whether the Department had the necessary personnel complement to man the Rooivalk helicopters.

Rear Admiral Verster replied to these two questions by stating that this was a very old project which involved the different production, development and operation phases at the same time. Since mid 2004 the Department had been engaged with Denel to obtain the first aircraft to be used for peace-support initiatives during 2005. Yet at the end of December 2004 Denel indicated that they would not be able to meet the deadline due to certain internal problems and incapacities. Thus the likelihood of the capacity becoming available during 2005 was under significant pressure. The Department had made all the plans and believed it was in a position to fulfill its obligation. All efforts were being made to ensure this capability materialised.

Mr Monareng sought clarity on the expenditure on uniforms.

Secondly, Mr Monareng stated that there appeared to be no internal compliance within the Department with regard to Treasury requirements, and sought clarity on the extent to which this was being ensured.

Secondly, Mr Monareng sought clarity on the Department’s lack of an integrated computer system.

Mr Masilela replied to these two questions by stating that during 2003/4 the Department received a qualified financial statement in the following areas: human resources, logistics environment, inventory and asset management information systems and the Department’s policies on receiving donations and gifts. The Department did experience difficulties regarding its logistics environment, and this has partly to do with the information systems that the Department employed. The Department was currently operating four different logistics systems, and the decision was taken to operate under a single logistics system. The Department was currently working towards achieving this. He stated that only 23% of all units were computerised, but this would be resolved once the single system was put in place. The Department had identified targets for the implementation of the new system.

A further factor was that the Department was currently moving from the cash to accrual basis with regard to its accounting practices. This would be explained to SCOPA tomorrow, and this Committee could be provided with the documentation as well.

Mr Booi asked the Department to explain the areas that would be upgraded by the R65 million allocated for addressing its ammunition sites.

Mr Masilela responded that the Department conducted comprehensive feasibility studies in a project conducted 3 years ago, which required R600-800 million for the full establishment of the upgrading plan to destroy the unwanted ammunition. A task team was established a while back by the departments of Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology and the Department to look into this issue. It was decided to employ the ‘nip and dip’ route and the Department was engaged with the Swedish government to address this matter. The construction should begin in 2006.

The Chair asked Mr Masilela to explain the Department’s plans to spend the R65 million.

Mr Masilela replied that the Department’s plan was to use R10 million out of the R65 million allocated to immediately stabilise the ammunition and ensure its safety. It was for this reason that the Department was engaging the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on the environmental impact study. The task team was meeting regularly and reporting back to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), and this information could be made available to Members.

Dr Koornhof suggested that the Committee engage with the Department before its oversight visits to the ammunition sites on how exactly the Department would be spending the R10 million and R65 million, because this was a recurring problem within the Department.

Mr Masilela responded to that the Department would provide the detailed breakdown during next week’s meeting.

Mr Booi sought clarity on the Department’s expenditure on the AG Astra Magazine used by the air force.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that there was an increase in R5.8 million to R8.4 million between the 2004/5 to 2005/6 years, which equated to a R2.6 million increase over all which was not a significant amount in terms of the Department’s budget. The R2.6 million was also used for airpower development studies, strategic decision support, operational research and weapon system analysis. Thus the increase was not only focused on the Astra Magazine.

Mr Monareng asked the Department to explain its plan to retain skilled black employees, as indications were that they were being lost to the commercial world.

Mr Masilela responded that this was being dealt with by the Department’s Human Resource Strategy 2010., of which the Department’s retention strategy formed an important part. The Department was engaging India and other countries for them to send their instructors to South Africa and to take some of South African trainees abroad, in order to train black professionals.

The Chair requested the Department to indicate the cost and time line of the programme that would improve the efficient and productive functioning of the Department.

Mr Masilela replied that this process had continued since March 2004, and it was a comprehensive process. The target date for completion was 14 March 2005, and the implementation date was 1 April 2005. Mostly people within the Department were being used.

Major General Ramlakan added that both the White Paper and the Defence Review was written in a particular context and shaped the manner in which the Department was shaped and run. The major strategic advance had been the requirement for peace-support operations. There were no financial savings, but the use to which the existing capabilities could be put. The structure of the Department was not being changed.

The Chair asked the Department to explain the savings it would make with the transfer to the South African Police Services (SAPS) of the national key point security function.

Mr Masilela responded that the savings amounted to R2.9 million, and the phasing out of this function must be completed by 2009. The savings would be used in the Department’s operations environment..

Mr Booi asked the Department to indicate the HIV/AIDS expenditure.

Major General Ramlakan replied that the Department’s figures on the HIV/AIDS incidence stood between 17% and 21%, depending on the units, and the Department’s figures were lower than nationally reported figures. The Department had a programme that provided Anti retroviral treatment, groundbreaking research was being conducted with the Centre for Disease Control to look at all modalities of treatment. It was hoped that this research would contribute to the national effort in due course.

The Chair stated that 43% of the Department’s total personnel complement for 2004 were hospitalised at an average stay of 3.4 days. He asked the Department to explain the reason for the high figure and the loss of labour to the Department.

Major General Ramlakan responded that the Department’s total population base was approximately 340 000, and consisted of people from all walks of life. The Department did share facilities with the Department of Health and at times made us of its facilities. These were consolidated figures that reflected the workload of the military health service, and was no cause for alarm.

The Chair stated that information was needed from the Department on the precise wastage of these resources. He stated that the Department must provide this information at a later stage if it did not have the precise figures with it at the moment.

Moulana Shah asked the Department to comment on the indication that 70% of the 1 SA Battalion was unfit.

The Chair stated that the Department only needed to reply once Moulana Shah had provided all relevant information on the number of people involved as well as dated, as it currently amounted merely to an unsubstantiated allegation.

Mr Booi stated that the Department’s exit plan must indicate what happened to sick employees.

Mr Masilela noted the comment.

Mr Huang stated that the budget documentation indicated that the budget for the ‘political direction’ amounted to R12.5 million, yet the presentation indicated that it amounted to R14 million.

Mr Engelbrecht replied that the information in the budget documentation was prescribed by Treasury. The correct figures for the Minister, Deputy Minister and political direction salary packages amounted to exactly R14 million, which reflected the total contribution of the sub programme.

Dr Koornhof proposed that, in view of Major General Ramlakhan’s statement that the Department’s military health service had 340 000 personnel, the Department request a share of the provincial health grant via the Division of Revenue Act.

Mr Masilela responded that he could not agree more, and the Department felt strongly about this.

Concluding remarks by Chairperson
The Chair thanked the Department for the input and adjourned the meeting.

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