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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 August 2006
SPECIAL PENSIONS ACT AND EXIT MECHANISM FROM SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL DEFENCE FORCE: PRESENTATION BY DEPARTMENT
Chairperson: Ms T Tobias (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Report on the implementation of the mobility/exit mechanism for members of the SANDF and employee initiated severance package for Public Service act personnel with specific reference to middle management transformation:(Powerpoint presentation): Part1 & Part2
Brigadier General A.L Dewit gave a power point presentation to the Committee on the Special Pensions Act and Exit Mechanism from SANDF. He described the departmental benefits and summarised the statistics of departures under the mobility exit mechanism. Members asked specific questions on incentives, reskilling linked to redeployment, the apparent decline in military courtesy, benefits for those under 35 years of age in non-statutory foces, and the limitations clauses. The Committee noted the misperception that white personnel were being “pushed out”. It was noted that questions relating to special pensions and NSF pensions would be dealt with at another meeting, when National Treasury would make a presentation.
Presentation by Brigadier de Wit
Brigadier A de Wit ( Director Human Resources and Planning, Department of Defence (DoD) spoke on the exit mechanisms and gave an overview of staff statistics from 1994 to 2005 focusing on downsizing/rightsizing origins, the legal basis, the intent of the Mobility Exit Mechanism (MEM) and the guidelines for succession planning. Departmental benefits included exit pay, payment of leave credit, resettlement and post-retirement medical assistance for those who were 55 years and older. This also included one month’s notice for official housing and a state guarantee for third party debts recovered from exit pay. A maximum of R13 000 for reskilling, training for employment opportunities and entrepreneurial skills, and subsidised motor vehicle scheme were also included in the benefits.
75% of all approved MEM exits had been white whilst 25% had been black. 422 out of 574 middle-management exits had been white males. 183 of approved MEM exits had been members 50 years and older whilst 9 approved had been declared disabled persons.
The Chairperson stated that she had been impressed by the records shown by the presentation. In terms of skills development the Department of Defence (DoD) had been leading all other departments. It should however be noted that there had been no intention to push white people out of the Department. There had been a misperception, which was seen even in the debates on the Mercenary Bill, that white employees were being pushed out. It was most unfortunate that certain issues were taken by some people from the Committee to the media and that facts were distorted.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) stated that people had not been receiving incentives to stay in this sector as opposed to pilots and engineers.
Mr January Masilela (Secretary for Defence )responded that the issue of skills exodus had been a huge challenge. The response of the DoD had been based on its understanding of the constitutional imperatives. The DoD could not compete with the private sector, but had gone out of its wasy to retain staff.
The Chairperson commented that maybe DoD should seek some lessons from Cuba.
Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima (Corporate Services, DoD) stated that he was concerned that this issue was being reduced to comparison with pilots. The exodus had been across the board. He had also observed that in the United States almost every CEO was appointed from a military background and commented that perhaps the trend was still coming to South Africa.
The Chairperson stated that South Africa should have control measures to retain skills.
Lieutenant General Matanzima commented that reskilling was useless if people would not get deployment
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) gave thanks for a good clear presentation. He asked for greater clarity on the amount of R13 000 reflected for reskilling and asked if this figure applied to each person.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) stated that there had been a new culture coming into the military. This culture failed to give proper recognition and acknowledgment to superior personnel.
Mr Tsitsi (DoD representative) responded that the question of military courtesy was part of military culture and needed to be observed and preserved. It had been a question of discipline and without discipline there would not be a military service.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) stated that DoD had reached its targets not just in terms of racial balances. He asked, in terms of costs, whether there were any other costs outside DoD, and whether these had been budgeted for or whether funding would come from elsewhere. He also asked for an estimate of what the future would hold, and how long the programme still needed to run until DoD met the rightsizing.
Mr Masilela responded that the issue of cost had been a challenge to DoD
Brigadier de Wit added that the process was maintained every month and budgeted for.
Mr M Pheko (PAC) referred to the lump sum benefit on page 4 of the presentation, and asked if this was subjected to tax. He pointed out that in the past, non-statutory forces under 35 had not been able to get benefits and asked if they had indeed now benefited.
The Chairperson stated that the issue of defence review should be shelved for now. It would be addressed at a later stage.
Dr M Ledwaba (Chief Director of Human Resources: Policy and Planning, DoD) stated that the issue of those below the age of 35 was currently being entertained by the National Treasury. In response to the question on taxation, he pointed out that every person was taxed and that lump sum was also subject to taxation.
The Chairperson stated that the matter of special pensions and NSF pensions would not be dealt with now. The Committee would ask National Treasury to make a presentation before the Committee. There would be no further discussion on this point at present.
Mr L Diale (ANC) was pleased to hear that the issue of taxes would be further discussed. He asked whether there had been specific encouragement given to join the reserve force structures.
Mr Ntuli asked to what extent DoD had been practising the constitutional limitation of rights.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) queried this comment, stating that if he was voted in as a member of parliament, then wished to resign, what would happen if his constituency would not let him do so? He commented that DoD would be left with nothing if senior military officials were simply permitted to leave. The limitation clause should be used to ensure South Africa’s safety.
The Chairperson commented that it was surely not desirable to re-introduce conscription. She would prefer this whole issue should be dealt with at another time. It was clear that the issue of remuneration would not be solved at this meeting. She asked members to concentrate upon the report back on the programme. She stated that she had been satisfied with the report but added that in terms of gender DoD should bring in another 20% in the next year.
Lieutenant General Matanzima stated that steady results were being achieved, and DoD was achieving its objectives. Any people leaving the military should do so without feeling that they had received poor treatment..
The meeting adjourned.
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