Defence Secretariat: Overview since 1994


04 June 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


4 June 2001

Chairperson: Mr J N Mashimbye

Documents Handed Out:

Full Report to the Joint Standing Committee
Defence Secretariat Briefing to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (see Appendix)

The Defence Secretariat briefed the Committee on its performance since 1994. The Committee was deeply concerned about the lack of communication that had occurred between the Secretariat and the Committee. There was a feeling from members that the Secretariat is not adequately fulfilling its oversight role, sparking fears that the line between the military and civil society is blurred, which made the lack of communication with the Committee especially problematic. The Secretariat attempted to allay some of the fears aired by the Committee, but admitted that they were still behind in fulfilling their oversight role.

The Chair thanked the Committee members for attending this meeting instead of attending their party caucuses. He said that the parliament represents the people of the country and must act to hold the government to account, unlike in some countries where the parliament is seen as a "necessary irritation".

The Chair noted that this was the first time that the current secretariat had briefed the Committee. He said that a defence secretariat has existed at different times in South Africa’s history, dating back to the Anglo-Boer War. Tensions between the military and civilian oversight has often in the past led to the disbanding of the secretariat. He said that it was recognised that a defence secretariat was crucial in the new dispensation as oversight of the military was crucial for a democracy.

The Chair welcomed the delegation from the Defence Secretariat and said that the Committee would be interested to know the progress of the Secretariat to date.

The Defence Secretary, Mr J B Masilela, said that the Secretariat appreciated being summoned to the Committee and that they were always "happy to comply". Mr Masilela said that the following presentation was intended to brief the Committee on the current status of the Secretariat.

Mr Masilela read out the presentation mentioned above based, on the full report that was handed out to Committee members. (See appendix for both documents).

Before the commencement of the discussion, Mr Masilela admitted that the Secretariat was still working on its capacity to fulfil its oversight function and said that much needs to be done to achieve an ideal and competent oversight role for the Secretariat.

Mr R Jankieshon (DP) asked what work has been done on the Defence Review. He also requested feedback on the Setai Report as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has indicated that they have rejected the report. He asked if there was any conflict over the report. Mr Jankieshon finally asked what type of civic education is being taught.

Mr Masimela said that the Secretariat was still dealing with the Review. He said that the main concerns were with the budget allocation as the Department was in need of resources and hence the need to produce an affordable plan.

Mr Masimela said that the Chief of Defence has not rejected the report. He said that the report was an interim report and that the Secretariat felt that some issues had not been dealt with adequately. He said that allegations in the report remained unsubstantiated. However, the report has not been fundamentally rejected.

With regards to civic education, Mr Masimela said that he was chairing a Civic Education Monitoring and Advisory Council that would examine submissions from civil society. He said that a manual on civic education is being produced.

Ms Z A Kota (ANC) expressed concern that foreign relations fell under the auspices of the SANDF rather than the Defence Secretariat. She asked if the Defence Secretary could broadly describe the process of transformation in the Secretariat.

Mr Smiedt (DP) said that foreign relations should not fall under the auspices of the military as it had a civilian function and asked what the Secretariats position was on this matter.

The Chair said that the military attaches used to report to the Head of Military Intelligence. He asked if it was true that they now reported to the Head Of the SANDF. He asked if this was true, and if so, could the Secretariat explain why this had changed.

Mr Masimela said that there were two structures which together comprised foreign relations. One is the Policy and Planning Directorate, which prepares memoranda of international agreements. The other is the Chief of Intelligence that deals with visiting attaches or visits of the Chief of Defence abroad. Mr Masimela said that the Secretariat wanted to streamline these offices.

Mr L V Ngcule (ANC) said that the key concern for him was that the secretariat appeared emasculated as its key accounting and logistical functions have been taken away. He said that the idea of a secretariat was to prevent the re-militarisation of South Africa, but as the key functions now reside with the Chief of Defence, the oversight role of the Secretariat is diminished.

Mr Masimela referred Mr Ngcule to section 40 (a) of the Report that reads: "The number one priority is to establish reporting relationships with required control system owners i.e. personnel, logistics, legal, police and command and management information (GITO)," in order to highlight the role played by the Secretariat in logistics. Mr Masimela however admitted that a balance still needs to be struck. He said that it is necessary for the Chief of Defence to have logistical information as he needs the scope and freedom to deploy troops etc. Mr Masimela said that the Secretariat also needed these control measure and as the structure stands now, that ideal balance had not been achieved.

One member said that there is a perception in the police and defence force that the secretariat is waste of time. He said that in theory the Secretariat has an oversight function, but asked if the oversight role is fulfilled in practice. He asked Mr Masillela if he was theoretically or practically the head of the defence force.

Mr Masimela asserted that the Secretariat was not a waste of time and had a crucial role as Defence in a democracy must be subject to oversight. He conceded that the Secretariat had not fully met this challenge, but that there had been achievements and that firm foundations had been laid. He re-iterated that the Secretariat was en route to its objectives and that it would fulfil its oversight role. Finally, Mr Masimela stated that he is in charge of the defence force.

Mr H C Smiedt (DP) said that although he is fairly new to the Committee, he had seen the Chief of Defence several times, but never the Defence Secretary. He said that he was disappointed that such a briefing had not happened sooner and that it marks a lack of interaction between the Secretariat and the Committee. Mr Smiedt asked when the draft bill of the Defence Act would be submitted to the Committee.

The Chair said that he had called for a workshop on the Defence Review in the past, but that the Department of defence had pulled out at the last minute. He said that this was unfortunate as the intention of the workshop was to ask the Department whether there was a need to review the Defence Review. He added that the Secretariat will soon be receiving a document detailing that discussion.

Mr Masimela apologised for the Secretariat’s absence at the workshop and said that he would appreciate hearing the viewpoints that arose from the workshop.

The Chair asked if the Department had fundamentally moved away from the Review as there was a sense that "much water had passed under the bridge" without legislative consultation.

The Chair said that he is glad to learn that there is a Head of Policy and Planning as the Committee were not aware that someone had filled that position and were concerned.

Mr Masimela said that actually, as yet a Head of Policy and Planning had not been appointed and that the person referred to was the acting head. He said that the Secretariat was also disappointed that the position was still vacant, but at the of the day, it is subject to approval by Cabinet.

The Chair requested that the secretariat give the Committee a concrete plan detailing what is to be done with excess stock.

Mr Masimela said that this was a difficult issue and that five million rand had been allocated to deal with excess stock. He said it is hoped that a plan will be produced by September.

Ms T R Modise (ANC) said that Chief of Defence Intelligence is under the Chief of Defence. In other words foreign relations had been moved to the office of the Chief of Defence. She asked what had a necessitated such a move.

Ms Modise said that in two meetings held with the Chief of defence Intelligence, she had noticed a complete divorce between policy and implementation

Ms Modise said that Mr Masimela proclaims that he is the boss. She said that there is a feeling that civilian control over the military is eroding and that when Mr Masimela went abroad, he appointed a military man to deputise for him. She asked why this occurred when we are struggling to get civil authority over the military.

Ms Modise said that five million rand has been allocated and that plans are being put into place to deal with excess stock, but meanwhile the stock is rusting and nothing is being done with it.

Ms Modise said that she feels that the Committee must review the Defence review as the Department is taking advantag of the Committee.

Ms Modise said that there is a problem of communication between the Secretariat and the Committee. She said that the Committee is still waiting for certain Bills from the Secretariat.

Ms Modise said that there is clearly a problem of capacity-building. She said that being polite about it will not help, these matters need to be addressed.

Mr Masimela said that Ms Modise had raised grave and serious questions.

Mr Masimela said that the restructuring and streamlining of the Department had handed foreign relations to be dealt with by the Chief of Corporate Staff.

Ms Modise said that the Committee had not endorsed this new structure.

Mr Ngculu said that the department had outlined an excellent financial report the previous week. However, the problem was that the budget does not correlate with the structure just outlined.

The Chair said that the structure is new and wrong. He said that when restructuring impacts on policy, it must be brought to the attention of the Committee.

Mr J Grundling, Chief Financial Officer apologised for the discrepancy. He said that the business plan had been drawn up last year and was not changed in line with the new structure.

Mr Grundling said that the reason for the shift is that military attaches are concerned with military matters and if they were dealt with by the Chief of Defence Intelligence, it would imply that the purpose was to gather intelligence. On the other hand, by placing the attaches under the Chief of Corporate Staff, a liaison role was being implied. He said that the reason for the structural change was to promote an atmosphere of peace and confidence.

Mr Masimela said that process of civilianising the Secretariat is ongoing and something that the Secretariat was consciously aware of.

Ms Modise demanded that the Committee be consulted in these matters.

Mr Masimela said that not informing the Committee of the restructuring was an oversight on the part of the Secretariat. He said that he could not agree more that dynamic communocation is needed.

With regards to the problem of excess stock, Mr Masimela said that the problem is that there are bureaucratic struggles involved that complicate the issue.

Ms Kota suggested that the Committee call the Chief of Defence to highlight issues of accountability.

Mr Masimela agreed that it would be a good idea to call the Minister and the Chief of defence before the Committee.

Mr Smiedt said that some of the successes outlined by the Secretariat are long overdue. He said that a review of the Defence review is necessary as the circumstances in 1997 and 1998 are different than today.

Mr Grundling warned the Committee that a forthcoming issue and priority was the change in the Department’s information management system in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act. He said that the Act requires the Department to function like a business and draw up balance sheets and income statements. He said that the Department has never had to account in this way and that it will be costly and that it is doubtful that government will fund every province and department. The fact that each department will be required to fund the changeover will be a key issue in the future.

The Chair said that he had been impressed by the frank, candid and educational briefing. He said that the chief item on the agenda- to understand how the Defence secretariat is achieving its mandate- had been dealt with. He said that it would have been impossible for the Committee to speak in parliament about this, without the briefing. He added that ill-informed parliaments do not help anybody.

The Chair said that the members of this Committee all share a passion for Defence and want to help the Secretariat in overcoming its problems. He requested that the issues discussed today be followed up.

The Chair said that the Secretariat will get the support of the Committee when things are done well. He said that he feels that he can now stand-up in parliament and say that the Secretariat is "not asleep at the wheel, but driving the car."

The Chair adjourned the meeting.

Presentation by Secretary for Defence

The purpose of this briefing is to inform the members of the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament for Defence (JSCPD) on the status of the Defence Secretariat.

· The Secretariat was established in terms of
- Interim Constitution Act, 1993
- Constitution Act, 1996
- Defence Amendment Act, 1995 and 1997
- Draft Defence Bill, 2001 reaffirms the above

The Secretary shall-
• as head of department be responsible for:
- efficient management and administration of the Department and shall perform the functions that are prescribed for heads of department in general as well as those specifically prescribed for the head of department.
• As accounting officer of the Department execute the responsibilities in respect of:
- the Department vote;
- accounting for all State monies received and all payments made;
- acquisition, receipt, custody and disposal of all State property in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act.

· As head of the Defence Secretariat
- be the principal departmental adviser to the Minister with regard to defence policy matters
- provide the Chief of the National Defence Force with delegations and instructions with regard to the performance of his or her functions as head of department and accounting officer of the Department of Defence in respect of the Defence Force
- Management and the administrative control over the staff of the Defence Secretariat:
- effective utilisation
- training
- discipline of persons employed in terms of the Public Service Act.

· Enhance civil control by:
- Briefings to Parliament
- Parliamentary Committees having oversight over the dept (e.g.PIOC)
- Advise the Minister
· Monitor compliance with policies and directives & report thereon to the Minister


· Major or restructuring under direction of the Minister from 1994
· Cardinal changes to functions and structures were:
• *Establishment Balance Model in 1995
• Transfer Head of Dept & Accounting Officer from CNDF to SecDef in 1997
• Empowering CNDF to effect command and control post OPERATION BOLEAS in 1999

Consolidation of CSANDF Support Functions in 2000
Statutory requirements of Public Service Act & Public Finance Management Act require further functional and structural adjustments to be effected in the near future

· Respect for constitutional imperatives of transparency, accountability and good governance
· Successes as Principal Policy Advisor
· Defence White Paper
· Defence Review
· Bi-lateral agreements

· Civic education programme
· Draft Defence Bill
· Future capital acquisitions are under configuration
· Reprioritisation of equipment requirements completed

Successes as Accounting Officer
· Resolute implementation of the Public Finance Management Act
· Transfer command of finance function from CSANDF to Secretary for Defence
· Improved expenditure control, financial statements, accountability management and relations with Auditor General
· Reporting and prosecuting of financial misconduct
· Personnel budget - balanced at the end of the financial year

Successes as Head of Department
· Policy, programmes and plans for EO and AA implemented
· Racism policy promulgated Gender Forum established
· Disability Forum established
· EO Advisory Board established
· Demilitarised and professionalised finance functionaries
· Transfer of acquisition function from the Services to the Secretariat
· Transfer of the procurement function from C Logistics to C Acquisition
· Total audit coverage of the department completed
· Negotiated recognition of service pensions for former NSF members in DoD

· Reports to Parliament - PIOC; Budget.
· Procurement-related expenditure in the General Defence Account and Special Defence Account under control
· Monitoring integration
· Compliance with transformation principles and guidelines through Defence Inspectorate inspections
· Evaluation of performance measurement - merit bonuses under control

· Strategic objectives include EO&AA imperatives-reflected in the Service and Divisional Chiefs' Performance Agreements
· Exclusive line authority over all finance functionaries
· Established finance internal control system

· Mandate as Constitutionally and legislatively obligated, is being fulfilled,
· BUT:
- Lack of capacity in certain areas, e.g. efficient management of the materiel resources of the department; strategic planning process
- Care and maintenance of State property (Public Works) not satisfactory-large capital outlay required

Civic control and sound civil-military relations
· Managing transformation Right-sizing and rejuvenation of the personnel component
· Regional confidence and security building mechanisms (CBS’s) through the ISDSC
· Successful integration of the strategic defence packages

· Finding resources to maintain and build technologies
· Fully develop monitoring and control systems e.g.anti-fraud/corruption
· Fully develop, implement and evaluate EO&AA policy including mainstreaming gender
· Develop a resource management information system supporting accrual accounting

· Develop appropriate structures and capacity across the board
· Finalise pending legislation
· Review the Defence Review/New Review
· Institutionalise co-operative governance
· Obtain support for proceeds from sales of equipment into the defence budget

Department of Defence
· Human and cultural transformation
· Management of health status

Defence Secretariat
· Staff the Secretariat with competent people
· Develop strategic leadership of the Secretariat.


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