The Department of Defence presented its Strategic business plan for 20078/09. The Committee was critical of the fact that not sufficient documents had been provided in advance to allow the Committee to prepare itself. The legislative changes in respect of the Department’s work were tabled. A detailed presentation was tabled, outlining the outputs, service delivery, indicators and outputs for defence force employment, landward defence, air, maritime, military health support, defence intelligence and general support. It was noted that one of the major risks was related to deterioration of infrastructure, and there was insufficient funding to reverse this trend. There was a further challenge in loss of skills to the private sector and other departments. The defence budget indicated a total allocation of R28.2 billion and some of those performance indicators that were able to be publicized were included in the Estimates of National Expenditure. The Department was on track with the National Treasury requirements in respect of full reporting by 2010.
Members noted the submission that there had been under funding of this Department over the years and noted the revenue estimates. Questions were asked around the state of combat readiness, discipline in the forces, loss of staff and what incentives had been put in place, and what more needed to be done, including further allocations. Members also queried whether the United Nations had refunded the Department in respect of those deployed internationally, the impact of HIV and Aids and the programmes being run, whether the budget had taken inflation and rising fuel prices into account, what was being done in relation to the power outages and shortage, the Defence Force presence on the borders, health programmes, deterioration of infrastructure and whether assistance was being given by the Department of Public Works.
Department of Defence (DOD) Strategic Plan and Budget 2008/9 briefing
The Chairperson stated at the outset that he was concerned that the Committee had not been able to prepare itself properly for the meeting due to non-receipt of certain information. He deplored the Department’s shabby attitude to their work and lack of respect for Parliament. He suggested that in the circumstances perhaps the meeting should not proceed.
Mr A Manyosi (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that it seemed that there was lack of seriousness on the part of the Department in its preparation for the meeting. It seemed that there was poor management within the Department.
The Department apologized sincerely and asked that the presentation be allowed.
The Chairperson said that he would allow the meeting to continue and cautioned that the Department must take such Committee meetings seriously. He said that the Department had qualified audit reports for four years now and he hoped that the qualified reports were a thing of the past.
Mr Tsepe Motumi, Deputy Director General, Department of Defence, explained that the Department was very complicated department, consisting of the Air Force, the Navy, the Army and Health Services. One of the problems was that there had been restructuring of the Department. The restructuring of Human Resources was finished, but there was still a need to deal with the restructuring of Finance. He assured the Chairperson that the problems would be eliminated and qualified reports would be a thing of the past, pointing out that such qualified reports were also a handicap to the Department.
He stressed that there was a need for a strong defence system regardless of whether the country was at peace or at war. One of the challenges was training, especially technicians in the Navy and the Air Force, who would often be lured away before they had managed to put their training into practice. There was a need for strong funding for both the Departments of Safety and Security and for the Department of Defence. It was important to work closely with Parliament to press the need for more funding for the Department.
He said that the Strategic Business Plan would give the Committee an overview of the Department. Chapter 1 of the detailed business plan presented the constitutional mandate of the Department of Defence (DOD), how it was operationalised, the governance and resource strategies. Chapter 2 set out the Medium Term Strategic Focus. He outlined the legislative changes (see attached presentation for details) and indicated the outputs of air, maritime and military health support, as well as defence intelligence and general support. The outputs, risks and service delivery improvements were also set out.
Mr Motumi said that the strategic objectives necessary for the function were set out in the presentation. However, he noted that there was a risk relating to deterioration of infrastructure because of insufficient funding. He warned that another risk was the continuous loss of skills to the private sector.
The Defence Budget allocation was set out by programme, indicating a total allocation of R28.2 billion. It was indicated that some performance indicators for measurable outputs, which could be published, were included in the Estimate of National Expenditure. Detailed performance was included in the Service and Division Plans.
Chapter 4 would deal with Defence Force employment and there was reference to the Output Table. There was a need for external peace missions to be established and at least nine peace missions were envisaged over the three year period.
Chapter 5 dealt with Landward Defence, which would provide support and prepared capabilities for the defence and protection of South Africa. The measurable objectives for this programme were set out.
Chapter 6 set out the purpose and outputs for air defence. Chapter 7 set out similar details in relation to maritime defence (see attached presentation for details)
Chapter 8 of the presentation dealt with the Military Health Service, setting out its outputs, purpose and measurable objectives. He noted that there was need of funding to provide a comprehensive and multidisciplinary health service to a patient population of 230 000.
Chapter 9 set out the purpose, objectives and outputs in relation to Defence Intelligence.
Chapter 10 dealt with the general support capabilities and provision of support to the Department.
Mr Motumi explained that influences on the budget and spending plans included the need to align with Government priorities, outputs of the department, defence budget allocations, key performance indicators and overarching strategic risks. He stated that the Estimates of National Expenditure and Strategic Business Plan were fully aligned, and that the Department was on track to meeting National Treasury’s requirements for full performance reporting by 2010. It was addressing the strategic issues that posed a threat to output whilst successfully meeting its ordered commitments.
Mr A Watson, (DA, Mpumalanga) said the aim of the meeting was to look at the budget allocation trend, and to hear submissions in relation to the budget . It appeared that DOD had been under funded by National Treasury over the years. He noted that the revenue estimates by the DOD amounted to around R550 million, and this must be applauded.
Mr A Moseki (ANC, North West) asked what the state of combat readiness was, also whether the defence forces were disciplined, and, if so, what mechanisms were put in place to facilitate this.
Lt Gen Jurinus Janse van Rensburg, Chief of Corporate Staff, DOD, responded that the Department would need, in due course, to discuss the combat readiness. He submitted that in relation to disciplining of the military force, the Department, through its work session, would improve discipline by various methods, including legislative measures to suspend without payment where necessary.
Mr Moseki asked which other departments had been poaching the specialised personnel within the DOD. He also asked what mechanisms would be employed to try to retain them. If there were to be incentives, he asked if money had been set aside for such purposes.
Mr Motumi acknowledged that there was a problem in loss of staff, and cited in particular the loss of divers and submariners to the Nigerian oil rigs, and loss of firefighters to the British army. Some staff had moved to the South African Police Services (SAPS) where they would receive better salaries. He said that Parliament should allocate more funding to allow the DOD to offer incentives to retain their staff.
Brig Gen A de Wit, Director: Human Resource Strategy and Planning, DOD, added that the loss of staff was around 11% each year. He said that that money had been set aside in the budget for incentives, amounting to about R408 million, but that this would not go very far. In addition, the DOD would have to look into non monetary incentives to curb the growing problem of loss of staff.
Mr Moseki asked whether there was money set aside on the budget for those deployed on the international front. He asked if the United Nations had refunded the Department for such deployment, since this had negatively affected the Department’s budget.
Lt Gen van Rensburg responded that the United Nations was not in default and that it would have to refund the Department for deployment within three months. He said that he would, for the sake of accountability, produce a report for the Auditor General on the amount that was due by the United Nations.
Mr Moseki asked about the impact of HIV on the personnel.
Lt Gen van Rensburg said that the Department had set up projects named Mpambisani and Padzisa, already prior to the roll out by the Government of anti retroviral medication ((ARVs). Urban and rural site projects had been set up in various areas to supply such ARVs to members of the military. The Department would work hand in hand with Santam to facilitate these projects to curb the AIDS pandemic.
Mr N Mack, (ANC, Western Cape) asked whether the figures that had been projected in relation to the budget had catered for the expected increase in the inflation rate, which could reach 6% by the end of the year. He also asked whether the budget catered for the increase in fuel prices. He questioned what mechanisms the Department would put into place to cater for the power shortages.
Lt Gen van Rensburg said that the Department had provided for purchasing of generators in the budget, and was looking to use other possible sources of power due to the power outages. He also said that there would be adjustments made to the budget to cater for the increases in inflation and that the National Treasury should make adjustments if necessitated by the increase of jet fuel and diesel prices.
Mr Mack also asked for a brief explanation of what international deployment on the borders related to.
Lt Gen van Rensburg responded that the Department would withdraw members of the military from various international borders since the military did not have the powers of arrest that were held by the SAPS. By 31 March 2009 the DOD would withdraw its military forces from the Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Lesotho borders. However, it would continue to maintain a presence on the border with Zimbabwe, since there were so many illegal immigrants.
Mr L Le Roux (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked whether the Department of Safety and Security had any mechanisms to train personnel within the DOD, to provide for shortages in staff in the marine environment as well as for flying squads.
Lt Gen van Rensburg said that the Department had provided for such training schemes within the budget.
Mr Z Ntuli (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) asked how the Department had been keeping the members of the reserve force fit, and whether there were incentives in place to retain their fitness.
Lt Gen van Rensburg responded that the Department was still in the process of analysing the possible fringe benefits that could be given to the reserve forces.
Mr Ntuli asked for further details on the HIV situation, whether it was worsening and whether it was affecting the readiness of the armed force.
Lt Gen van Rensburg said that the various projects that were mentioned earlier would cater for the worsening effects of the AIDS pandemic.
Ms F Nyanda (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked about deterioration of military infrastracture, and whether the reason for such deterioration was through lack of funding for repair.
Lt Gen van Rensburg said that there was not enough funding to repair the equipment and this led to the deterioration of equipment. He strongly urged Parliament to increase the allocation given to the DOD.
Ms.Nyanda questioned the issue of administration programmes doubling due to public works, and wondered whether the Department of Public Works was giving assistance to DOD.
Rear Admiral S Pillay, Director: Maritime Plans, SA Navy said that the Department of Public Works was assisting the DOD.
Ms Nyanda asked whether the SANDF were involved in war zones such as Iraq. She asked if there were mechanisms that were put in place to retain people within the department.
Lt Gen van Rensburg responded that the issue of retention of staff in the DOD boiled down to provision of incentives.
The meeting was adjourned.
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