SANDF Deployment to DARFUR, Sudan & within South Africa, Committee Annual Report

Defence

14 February 2008
Chairperson: Dr E Schoeman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee looked at three issues, the Letters from the President requesting the employment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for services in Darfur as well as with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Chairperson’s Oversight Report and the Department of Defence’s Draft Annual Report.

Members queried cost implications of deployment, updates of situations and delayed arrival of information. They also made additions to the Chair’s Oversight Report and the Draft Annual Report.   

Adoption of the Reports would take place the following week.

Meeting report

The Chairperson stated that the Committee would evaluate the letters from the President, the Chairperson’s Oversight Report as well as the Department’s Draft Annual Report.

Letters from the President

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) questioned the cost implications of deploying the soldiers. The Committee had not received any explanation for cost implications. Other than the cost query, the Committee should endorse the submission.

Mr J Schippers (ANC) stated that there were no details about the execution of the letters that the President signed. Also, there were no report backs from Parliament about the deployment situation and costs.

Mr L Diale (ANC) commented that many issues were discussed but only brought to the Committee’s attention at a much later stage. Letters only arrived before the Committee after a long period.

The Chair wondered what the implications were of not approving the letters. There was a lot of money involved. He noted during the debate that there were many issues in respect to funding deployment. He wanted to know how Defence budgeted for deployment that happened on an Ad Hoc basis. They would ask the Department for feedback on that particular issue. The report would include the costs involved in deployment and the amount of soldiers already deployed.

Ms Van Wyk requested a report on all the letters that the Committee had previously approved. She also told Members to take note of the dates that the letters were submitted to the Speaker. Both letters were sent before deployment took place. The Committee would talk to the Speaker about why the letters were sent to the Committee after such a long period of time.

The Chair agreed with Ms Van Wyk saying that the time delay issues were disconcerting. The Committee would discuss this issue with the Committee Section focusing on the process that was followed.

Adoption of both letters would take place the following week.

Chairperson’s Overview

The Chairperson asked Members to comment on the Overview if they felt that it did not reflect the Committee’s actions.

Mr Schippers commented that the Report was satisfactory. The Chair’s Overview stated that the Committee visited the Mahkado Air Force Base and the SA Army Combat Training Centre during the year. He requested a report on these places so that the Committee was able to assist them when needed.

Mr Schippers also referred to the minimisation of overlapping functions and duplication of functions of certain Departments. He said that the Mandate was too broad and should be minimised.

Draft Annual Report
The Chair suggested that the Committee analyse each page of the Report so omissions and additions could be made. He presumed that the Committee’s mandate was standard. There did not seem to be any controversial matters.

Mr Schippers stated that the Report would have to include the issue surrounding the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), as it appeared that they did not want to appear before the Committee.

A Defence workshop was planned but was cancelled. This would also be included in the Report. Mr Schippers wanted to know if unspent money would be used in the Department or given back to Parliament.

The Chair noted that the NCACC had not appeared before the Committee and that they were in breach of the Act set out by Parliament. A letter was written to the Speaker concerning the NCACC’s non-compliance. The Chairperson had not yet received a response. The Committees were seen as lawmakers and therefore could not breach laws passed in Parliament.

Mr J Ramrock (Committee Secretary) stated that the funds would be lost if they were not used. They would be looking at joint international visits.

The Chair said that there were two international visits that were important, Darfur and Germany. He wanted to know if any progress had been made with regard to Parliament’s response. Mr Ramrock assured the Committee that a request was submitted. The Committee was in possession of the funds but they were to wait for Parliament’s approval.

Ms Van Wyk suggested that the Committee included the issue of the NCACC in the Chairperson’s Overview so that it reflected that Members tried to resolve the issue.

Mr Schippers thought that it was a good idea for the Committee to talk to the Chair of Chairs about a visit to Vietnam, as it would allow them to utilise their funds and perform their oversight functions. The Chair said that the Committee would pursue the matter.

Ms Van Wyk wanted to know if the Report was written according to the standard format, as she wanted to add a few remarks. She suggested that a summary of the recommendations that the Committee made be included in the Report. This would also help the Committee with their oversight functions. She also wanted to include a summary of all the Reports that the Committee submitted to Parliament and those that were adopted.

The Chair stated that he did not find any reference to the ATC Reports that were tabled and had therefore included them in the Overview. He informed the Committee that he would ask the researchers to update Members on the recommendations made by Parliament during the year.

Mr Ramrock said that he would find out about the format of the Report so that the recommendations by Members could be added.

The Chair advised the Committee to evaluate the Report further, as additions and omissions were to be made before adoption the following week.

The meeting was adjourned.

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