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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 October 2006
ADOPTION OF COMMITTEE REPORT ON ANNUAL REPORTS OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE AND ARMSCOR
Chairperson: Ms T Tobias (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Portfolio Committee on Defence Report on DoD and Armscor Annual Reports
Portfolio Committee on Defence Draft Programme Fourth Quarter 2006
Department of Defence Plan of Action 2005
The committee had been briefed by The Department of Defence and Armaments Corporation of South Africa on 12 September 2006 on their annual reports. The Committee Report had been drawn, was now before the Committee for discussion, and was indeed discussion and adopted. Matters discussed included responsibility for the Integrated Financial Strategy and the need to discuss the matter with SCOPA. The initiation of true rejuvenation was recommended. The psychometric testing processes needed to be further discussed. It was clear that the Committee must monitor the reports from the Department to ensure that the same issues were not being raised year after year. These included the state of facilities, in which the Department of Public Works must also be involved. It was noted that Military Health Services had been left out due to a typographical error. Concern was expressed over budgetary constraints that led to lessened training. There was a need for a proposed plan of action from Defence Intelligence. The Committee must monitor equipment and upgrading cycles. It was noted that accounting principles were now aligned to generally accepted standards. It was necessary to arrange for a special briefing on pensions. The Committee’s Report was adopted. Other Committee business was dealt with.
The Annual Reports of both the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) had been presented in the last term, and the Committee was briefed on 12 September. It was now necessary to consider and discuss the Committee’s Report in order to reach a conclusion whether they could be adopted.
The Chairperson initiated the discussion by reading through point 2.2 of the Portfolio Committee’s Report on DoD and Armscor Annual Reports.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) asked who exactly was going to discuss and improve the Integrated Financial Strategy (IFS). He questioned whether the Committee should look at in isolation, or in conjunction with SCOPA.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) agreed with Dr Koornhof and felt that there should be an approved decision from SCOPA about the IFS. He expressed annoyance that SCOPA had not reverted to the committee and stated that they should finalise the matter before January 2007.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) agreed with Mr. Ndlovu but believed that February 2007 would be a more realistic target.
The Chairperson stated that force numbers were growing but rejuvenation was not occurring. It was for this reason that the Commtitee recommended the initiation of true rejuvenation.
Members supported this recommendation.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) questioned the use of apartheid era psychometric tests to select recruits.
The Chairperson stated that this had been on the agenda, but the Committee had lacked sufficient time to discuss the matter fully in the past. The issue would be given due consideration in the future.
The Chairperson expressed support of clauses i – vi in point 2.4 (State of Facilities).
Mr Ndlovu noted that every year the issue was discussed and that no progress was forthcoming.
Mr Monareng believed the Department of Public Works (DPW) to be at fault and stated that it was necessary to bring back the capacity to perform maintenance to the DoD as outsourcing to the DPW was clearly not working.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) asked what was meant by clause iv (Ammunition). He asked if this was intended to mean production and destruction, or was it intended rather to relate to retention of skilled personnel.
The Chairperson stated that in order to improve the capability it was necessary for the DoD track resolutions and recommendations, as well as examine patterns over the past financial years in order to mitigate the regurgitation of issues. She noted the need to invite DPW and SCOPA in order to align their concerns.
Mr Ndlovu asked whether a researcher was available and whether a researcher could review the necessary documents and highlight key areas.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee did have one, but that she was on a leave of absence for a while. The researcher had now returned and would assist the committee.
Dr Koornhof asked why Military Health Services was left out of the report.
The Chairperson responded to Dr Koornhof by stating that this was left out due to a typographical error.
Dr Koornhof asked how the Committee should go about supporting the allocation of funds to the respective wings of service, in relation to points 2.4 – 2.6.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee could in fact influence the money bill and explained that the Committee needed to discuss how to go about canvassing for additional funds.
Mr J Schippers (ANC) asked why ammunition was listed under point 2.4 and proceeded to explain that due to a shortage of funds infantry units were only being trained in the use of one type of ammunition instead of the mandated three.
Mr Ntuli expressed his dismay that the budget constraints prevented the effective training of infantry troops as well as the number of flying hours that airforce pilots were getting. He also stated that the Committee Report should make reference to the annual reports in order to ensure clarity.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Ntuli.
Mr Monareng stated the need for a proposed plan of action from Defence Intelligence (Point 2.7).
The Chairperson responded that further information was needed as to when and where Defence Intelligence would be moving. She suggested giving a deadline for this information to be communicated to the committee.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) believed in the need to specify a date as the two month period was too vague.
The Chairperson responded that the date should be stated specifically, for either January or February.
Mr Jankielsohn supported the Chairperson’s proposal.
Mr Monareng asked what point 2.8.1 meant and stated that invitations from Wahlmanstahl were not forthcoming. He suggested that a letter be written.
The Chairperson explained that there were numerous problems in information technology and support systems and that the matter needed to be addressed by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
Mr Monareng said that the Committee needed to monitor the suitability of equipment as well as its upgrading cycle.
The Chairperson agreed. She then highlighted the issue of accounting, stating that DoD had implemented measures to ensure alignment with the Generally Recognised Accounting Principles.
Mr Monareng stressed the needed for simple asset management mechanisms as the current ones were ineffective and cumbersome.
On point 2.8.3, Mr Ndlovu asked about the 6 558 names that were not verified for pensions.
The Chairperson noted the problems and stated that it was necessary to establish who qualified for the pensions. A report should be forthcoming.
Mr Monareng stated that the Department, in conjunction with National Treasury, was already undertaking this endeavour.
The Chairperson noted that the issue remained a challenge and stated the need for a briefing on Special Pensions and the Funds.
Mr Ndlovu noted that point 2.9 was straight forward and required no attention.
The Chairperson noted the need to focus on point 3. She stated that the Committee must focus on the consistency of unresolved fiscal issues. She stated that corrective measures were supplied in the report. The question of why the personnel expenditure report would take 60 months to formulate was raised. The Chairperson stated that 60 months was unacceptable and that a lesser timeframe should be decided upon.
Mr Jankielsohn believed that the Committee needed to cover itself by saying that it had noted the challenges in the DoD Annual Report and the issues raised by the Auditor General, and that the Committee would be monitoring that steps were being taken and that timeframes were set and adhered to.
Mr Monareng stated that there was a need to model the Military Ombud Person on information gathered from the impending trip to Canada.
Mr Ndlovu thanked the Chairperson for formulating the report.
The Committee’s Report was adopted.
Other Committee business
The Chairperson stated that the Committee must still account for a report on Canada.
She reminded the committee of a training exercise that would be taking place at Lohatla and asked for volunteers.
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