Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 19 - Defence and Military Veterans
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 19 May 2015
No summary available.
EPC – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 Take: 75
TUESDAY, 19 MAY 2015
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 14:00.
House Chairperson Ms M G Boroto, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote No 19 - Defence and Military Veterans:
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson; Deputy Minister Kebby Maphatsoe; fellow Cabinet colleagues; cochairpersons and members of the committees of Parliament; our Military Command Council; the Defence Secretariat; the executive management of military veterans; members of this extended session; members of the Armscor Board of Directors; members of the Defence Force Service Commission and the defence industry; and hon members, this Budget Vote is dedicated to the memory of Dr Ruth Mompati. Commonly known as Mme Ruth, she was one of our greatest stalwarts and military veterans who played a pivotal role in our illustrious and heroic journey to freedom and democracy. She died having received many accolades in honour of her immense contribution to the struggle.
On 5 May 2015, we lost one of our senior commanders, Lt Gen Bongani Mbatha. He was appointed as Chief of Logistics, in April 2014 and managed his portfolio with distinction. In the same week, we lost a member of the Armscor Board of Directors, Mr Fantas Mobu. May their souls rest in peace.
As a country, we recognise that growing instability in other regions of the continent impacts negatively on the economy and security of our own country. Migration patterns have become one of the world’s major challenges, as witnessed during the recent attacks on foreign nationals. Recently, the continent witnessed various political and governance issues that threaten to generate insecurity and escalate into conflict.
A low-level civil war in the Central African Republic continues to inflict untold suffering on the population. The recent rescue in that country of 300 child soldiers was a painful reminder of the continued committing of this war crime in our continent. Although progress has been made in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Monusco, of which we are a part, is still required to stabilise the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We watch with concern current developments in Burundi, where there was an attempted military coup. It is for this reason that initiatives are under way by the East and Central African leaders to find a peaceful solution to this crisis. In West Africa, Nigeria and other countries are fighting religious extremism and acts of terror which threaten to dismember those countries and establish an Islamic Caliphate.
The Horn of Africa and the East African Community is faced with similar security challenges. The effects of the so-called Arab Spring are still felt in the Sahel and the North African regions. We cannot ignore the real risk of the spillover and expansion of conflicts in the region southwards.
Nearer home, maritime crime and piracy in Southern African Development Community, SADC, waters has necessitated maritime patrols on our east coast, whilst we remain mindful of similar challenges on the west coast. Economic underdevelopment and the resultant chronic poverty, hunger and disease still threaten our continent. These social and economic ills combine to become major drivers of instability and conflict.
The recent interception by our intelligence services of South Africans recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Isis, served as a reminder that we are not immune to international terrorism, and should therefore remain vigilant at all times.
The challenges of organising and capacitating our Defence Force are first and foremost informed by this analysis of our geopolitical and security situation. While these situations are not always static, South Africa also has a responsibility to inform itself correctly about what the real drivers of insecurity are and whether those may require interventions other than military effort.
Our Defence Force has a critical role to play as we, together with our regional and other partners, seek to secure peace and stability, without which economic development is not possible. The Defence Force is too valuable a national asset to be a subject of partisan political bickering. It is therefore important for us to seek a national consensus on our Defence policy, as was urged by the 1998 Defence Review. This is the attitude and spirit that must guide us as patriots in our mission to build a highly professional and disciplined Defence Force, sufficiently resilient and resourced to protect both our country and our constitutional democracy.
Hon members will recall that the SA Defence Review 2014 was approved by Cabinet on 19 March 2014 and tabled in Parliament on 3 July last year for approval. The policy document was adopted by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 30 April 2015 and has been awaiting debate and approval by Parliament, a delay which has been costing us immensely, as the Defence Force.
It is helpful to remind ourselves of the directive by Cabinet when it approved the Defence Review in 2014:
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans ensures that the military strategy, force structure, force design, acquisition plans and funding trajectory are translated into a long-term defence development programme which is aligned and integrated to government’s planning cycle.
I said in my last Budget Vote debate that, during the 2014-19 Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, the Department of Defence will focus on the implementation of Planning Milestone 1 of the Defence Review that is aimed at arresting the decline of the SA National Defence Force, SANDF.
The delay in the approval by Parliament of the Defence Review 2014 means that the financial year 2015-16 will be devoted to planning and implementation during the financial year 2016-17, and beyond. The Department of Defence has, however, firmly put structures and processes in place to reach a resourced Planning Milestone 1 at the end of the current 2014-19 MTSF.
A Defence Review Overarching Implementation Framework, aligned with the national planning, budgeting and reporting cycle, has been approved. An oversight body, the Defence Review Implementation Project Team, Dript, consisting of both the Defence Secretariat and the Military Command Council was established to ensure departmental integration during planning and implementation. Two permanent planning streams, one on policy matters, led by the Defence Secretariat, and the other on force development planning, led by the Military Command, will drive the planning and implementation process of the Defence Review.
The Defence Secretariat planning team will institutionalise the new defence direction by developing the following: a funding model to enable the resourced implementation of the Defence Review 2014; a defence accountability concept to ensure civil control of defence without compromising the command and control of the SANDF; a delegation regime supportive of military command and control; a system to expedite defence capital acquisition; and a defence industry and technology strategy.
The Military Command planning team has begun work that seeks to incorporate the new defence policy into a military strategic direction framework. The work includes, firstly, the development of a new military strategy that will spell out how military resources will be used to achieve the policy objectives of the Defence Review 2014; secondly, the development of an appropriate force design and force structure to provide a clear account of capabilities required to achieve policy objectives; thirdly, the development of a plan to systematically restructure the SANDF throughout the MTSF period, as may be allowed by the current resource baseline, with particular emphasis on the command and staff system and the establishment of combat formations; fourthly, a plan to right-size the SANDF’s personnel component; and lastly, the renewal of the education, training and development system of the SANDF.
At this occasion last year, I informed this august House that the strategic intent of my Ministry from 2014 to 2019 would be built into the planning, budgeting and reporting cycle of government and accordingly aligned to support the National Development Plan, NDP, the New Growth Path, and the Industrial Policy Action Plan. In the light of the new defence policy direction, ministerial priorities have been incorporated into the Department of Defence’s 2015 planning instruments to ensure alignment.
These priorities are strategic leadership and succession planning for the defence programme; development of a Department of Defence funding model as a basis to negotiate the adequate resourcing of the Defence Force; renewal of defence personnel to meet future obligations; renewal of the defence organisation to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiencies; review of defence acquisition in line with the Defence Review’s four Planning Milestones; and the development of a defence industry strategy, technology agenda and innovation plans, as well as the integration of the defence industry into mainstream industrial policy.
Over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period, a force development plan will be developed concurrently with the arrest of the decline of SANDF – Planning Milestone 1. This plan will have a long term trajectory to rebalance and capacitate the Defence Force to effectively and efficiently execute its constitutional mandate. The implementation of all four Planning Milestones must, in the end, produce an agile, balanced and technologically advanced Defence Force able to meet its current commitments and future obligations.
The Defence Force will be sufficiently equipped and skilled to successfully execute operations across the full spectrum of conflict. It must have the capacity to defend and safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic of South Africa; keep and enforce peace beyond our borders; and have an offensive capability to deter potential aggressors.
I am happy to report that, during the year under review, much progress has been made in many areas of our work, such as the development of a sensor strategy and plan; the ongoing disposal of redundant equipment; the establishment of a joint operations centre at the Defence Works Formation and the completion of the Military Discipline Bill, which is currently with the state law advisors. Furthermore, the ongoing execution of Operation Caribbean, directed at the maintenance and repair of our military equipment, especially operational vehicles, with the assistance of technical personnel from the Cuban defence force, continues with success.
It is important for me to point out that, in the implementation of Planning Milestone 1, there are a number of activities we can embark upon within the existing resource allocation. These include the development of a new defence accountability model, the development of a military strategy aligned with the Defence Review 2014 inclusive of a force design, force structure and the development of a Department of Defence funding model to enable engagements with National Treasury to source funding for the implementation of the Defence Review.
A critical finding of the Defence Review is the mismatch between resources allocated to the Defence Force and its commitments at home and on the African continent. It is, indeed, this misalignment that is mainly responsible for the decline we have to arrest and reverse. This was exacerbated by the resources we had to spend to address the socioeconomic priorities of the people in our country. However, we can no longer afford to neglect the needs of our Defence Force.
Despite this constraint, the SANDF continues to execute tasks assigned to it with dedication and high levels of professionalism. A total of 2 213 members are currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Darfur region of Sudan as part of the United Nations and African Union mandated missions.
However, the United Nations must take responsibility for providing all necessary support to our forces. This includes intervening where challenges arise, particularly in the Darfur region, where we have constraints related to the delivery of logistic sustainment for our soldiers. As hon members are aware, in the DRC, the SANDF is deployed as part of Monusco, with elements forming the UN Force Intervention Brigade, FIB, together with the defence forces of Malawi and Tanzania.
The FIB was established to deal with the March 23 Movement, M23, and all negative forces. We have neutralised M23 successfully, but there are still other negative forces operating in that area. The inability of the UN and the DRC government to resolve the matter of the removal of the two DRC generals indicted for human rights violations remains one of the impediments to conducting disarmament operations. Going forward, our primary concern is the safety of the affected civilian population, whose lives we cannot endanger. Furthermore, as part of Mission Thebe, the SANDF has trained 9 000 recruits and soldiers in the DRC, to date.
Demands for the services of the military are ever-increasing. At home the Defence Force continues to deploy 13 companies for border safeguarding duties. These 13 companies must be expanded to 22 to execute the full border-safeguarding requirement. However, due to budgetary constraints, we have not met this expanded requirement. It is our intention to expand this by an extra two companies in this financial year.
In the last financial year, 17 refurbished operational ambulances were delivered for use by soldiers deployed on the borders. During operations, soldiers confiscated an assortment of contraband and intercepted undocumented foreign nationals.
On a sad note though, the Defence Force transported the mortal remains of 84 South Africans who perished in Lagos, Nigeria, after the collapse of a church building. The Defence Force, together with other agencies, assisted in the complicated task of identifying, preparing and transporting the mortal remains of the deceased for return to their loved ones.
The SA Navy continues to deploy its assets to combat piracy in the Mozambican Channel. This deployment is part of the SADC Maritime Security Strategy. The continuous presence of SA Navy platforms ensures the safety of merchant vessels to and from South Africa. Building the SA Navy remains a priority, with a view to protecting our maritime economy in order to advance our development objectives.
The SA Navy submarine, SAS Manthatisi, was successfully overhauled in the Simon’s Town dockyard, and is currently operational. This is the first time that a Type 209 submarine refit has been completed in Africa. The long-awaited refit of the SA Navy frigate, SAS Amatola, is in its final stages in Durban. A decision was taken last year to return the dockyard to the Defence Force, due to Armscor’s inability to manage this capability.
South Africa has been in the forefront of the establishment of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises, Acirc, to deal with security challenges on the continent. Volunteer nations have started with preparations to build this capacity. During 2014, the SANDF prepared its pledged force to reach an interim operational capacity by 30 September 2015, and a full operational capacity by 30 November of the same year. The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises is intended to be a provisional arrangement while the African Union builds capacity for an AU Standby Force.
African Ministers of Defence met last Friday at Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe, to confirm the commitment made by the African Chiefs of Defence that the African Standby Force must be in place and operational by December 2015. Exercise Amani Africa II is one of the AU’s main tools to support the African Standby Force. South Africa will be hosting this exercise from 19 October to 7 November 2015.
The Department of Defence is the Chair of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security, JCPS, cluster. We are committed to working with our sister departments to achieve the objectives of Outcome 3 of the MTSF 20142019:All People in South Africa are and Feel Safe, and Vision 2030. The Department of Defence will effectively safeguard South Africa’s borders; contribute to the development of the Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan; and ensure that matters of corruption are reduced.
There are a number of areas that I will briefly touch on where work is being done as part of our objective to rejuvenate the Defence Force through personnel and organisational renewal. Firstly, I wish to address the matter of recruitment. We must be sensitive and remember where we come from in the manner in which we do our work and how we strived to have a democratic and nonsexist, nonracial society. The SANDF must reflect the demographics of our society. I hereby direct the Defence Force and the SA Army, in particular, to develop strategies and plans to target the recruitment of those communities who are underrepresented in the SA Army.
Secondly, hon members will agree that the most rigorous training that one can receive is military training. There is, however, a regulatory and statutory framework which regulates how training must be conducted. Whilst this is the case, numerous reports have come to the fore that suggest there is some abuse of recruits during training. The Defence Force has taken such reports very seriously, to the extent that Service Chiefs and the Military Ombud are undertaking investigations in this regard. Military disciplinary action has been taken against those instructors who were found to have contravened the regulations.
Thirdly, I have researched the applicable legislation and regulations related to the retirement of SANDF members. Currently, the retirement age is 60, and I am considering using my discretion to extend it to 65. There is no legislative amendment required for this extension. It is a matter that can be dealt with in the regulations. This can assist us to retain skills while we are rejuvenating the Defence Force and developing our career succession plans. We have a similar challenge that must be addressed in the Reserve Force.
By the end of the last financial year, we had approximately 4 272 Military Skills Development System, MSDS, members in the system. We need to increase the intake of MSDS recruits to rejuvenate the Defence Force. The current intake is as follows. The SA Army has 1 574 members; the SA Air Force, 80; the SA Navy, 214; and the SA Military Health Service, 175.
I am proud to announce that, since 2014, a total of 128 Defence Force members – very young people - have undertaken studies in Cuba in the fields of mechanical engineering and related technical disciplines, air traffic control, aviation and various fields of medicine. [Applause.] Since 2011, the SANDF has rolled out the University Reserve Training Programme at 11 universities. To date, 298 members have completed their basic and initial officer training, qualifying them for junior officer appointments in the Reserve Force.
The revitalisation and transformation of the reserves remains a priority, particularly because, out of a total of 22 600 reserves, 14 600 were called up and mostly deployed in border-safeguarding operations. However, progress is hampered by acute budgetary constraints.
We have established an education trust that assists with the education of the children of soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Since its inception, the trust has awarded a total of 98 bursaries to these children. [Applause.]
Last year, when we met in this House, I set a target of 30% for women in the SANDF. I can happily report to you today that we have met this target. [Applause.] In addition, there are now five female major generals and 35 brigadier generals. We must remember that before 1994, there were only two female brigadier generals in this country.
We already have eight defence attachées. A sizeable number of women are further deployed in all spheres of our military operations. We have approximately 432 females deployed externally and 562 internally. The UN, itself, recognises that we deploy the most women in the world to its international peace missions. [Applause.]
The following measures will be implemented to redress the gender imbalance: the increase of women at all levels of military command; an increase in the number of defence attachées; the organisation of gender and leadership seminars across the gender divide; and the incorporation of gender perspectives and dynamics into all military development courses. Women in the SANDF, equally, have a responsibility to make themselves available for training, in order that we have a wide pool of female soldiers that can be considered for promotion.
I have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Public Works on the transfer of immovable assets. It is my belief that this arrangement will enable the Department of Defence to properly manage its own property portfolio to the benefit of our members who live and work therein. The Department of Defence is grateful that National Treasury has approved a sum of R900 million for this work.
We are training artisans. I am proud to announce that we have now completed the training of 751 members who have now qualified.
Last year, I reported on the appointment of a ministerial medical task team, in March 2014, to investigate a number of factors which were impacting negatively on the military health system. Following their initial report, I received the final report of the task team, in September 2014, after I had expanded its mandate. Its recommendations have since been translated into implementation plans in terms of human resources, infrastructure and health care.
We have now conducted a comprehensive audit on the translation of health professionals to the various occupation-specific dispensations. The outstanding grade progressions started at the end of September 2014 and will continue until all the audits and required rectifications with regard to health professionals are completed. Some translations were incomplete and grade progressions were outstanding, hence the brain drain of medical practitioners in the last two years.
The Defence Works Formation has taken over the refurbishment project of 1 Military Hospital. Clinical meetings and morbidity and mortality meetings have been established in the three military hospitals for the training and development of the community service doctors and interns.
I undertook to ensure that my department works in a cost-effective manner to optimally use the resources allocated to it. We have enhanced the capacity of the internal audit function to ensure compliance with departmental norms and standards.
Last year, I appointed a new Armscor Board, under the chairmanship of VAdm Mudimu. The Armscor Board has since finalised the Armscor turn-around strategy. VAdm Mudimu, who will soon be leaving us, has done sterling work in positioning Armscor for the future. We wish to thank him for his significant contribution.
I am delighted to announce the appointment of the chief executive officer of Armscor, Mr Kevin Wakeford, who is in our midst, for a period of five years, as from 1 May 2015. [Applause.] The corporation and its new chief executive officer must now address the backlogs in our acquisition. Armscor must further ensure it meets the required level of materiél acquisition support, in line with the Defence Review of 2014.
The permanent Defence Force Service Commission was appointed in 2013, and I reported this, but it does have challenges. The possible inadequacies of the commission’s powers to fulfil its mandate are being addressed so that it is empowered to undertake all matters envisioned by section 198 of the Constitution of the Republic.
The Military Ombudsman continues to address the grievances of both serving and former members of the SANDF. Since the inception of the Office of the Military Ombud, 875 cases were received and 658 cases have been finalised.
I will now hand over to the Deputy Minister to make a presentation on the military veterans. I appeal to the House to adopt this Budget Vote of R44,5 billion for the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M S MOTIMELE
THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Mr M S MOTIMELE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, hon Members of Parliament, guests in the gallery, comrades and compatriots, the ANC supports and embraces this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The advent of democracy in 1994 ushered in a new social order and laid the foundation for a democratic and inclusive state founded on the noble ideals of the Freedom Charter, the values of human dignity, human rights, freedom and nonracialism. Achievements in the last 20 years by this ANC-led government include making inroads into the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Pro-poor policies led to a reduction in poverty, and grants are now benefiting more than 16 million people.
However, none of this would have been possible had there not been a stable and secure environment in which to execute these activities. The role of the Defence Force in bringing about such a stable environment often goes unnoticed and unappreciated but it is, indeed, a non-negotiable. Besides having a constitutional mandate to ensure that our people are secure, the Defence Force has been instrumental in serving our national interests, locally and abroad.
The role of the Defence Force in disaster relief, antipoaching operations, assisting the police, as well as stepping in during the strikes by health workers, speaks of a Defence Force that is deeply aware not only of its constitutional mandate, but also of its role in a developmental state. [Applause.] We are, however, the first to admit that there are challenges in the defence environment and to this extent, the Defence Review 2014 has been instituted to guide our defence activities for the next 20 to 30 years.
This Defence Review should be understood as a body of public policy that a government pronounces as its guidelines for the defence objectives and functions of its armed forces. The national defence policy also clearly identifies possible threats to a country’s national security, society, economy, territory and environment, and provides options to government on how the Defence Force should deal with such threats.
Through the numerous interactions with individuals, NGOs, civil society, academics and state agencies in the consultation processes of both the Defence Review Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, we confirmed what our people expect of the Defence Force. The wide consultations, and especially the representativeness of it, led to the conclusion that this Defence Review can indeed be truly viewed as a genuine product for all South Africans by all South Africans. It is therefore without hesitation that the committee will throw its weight behind the Defence Force to realise its desired end state as depicted in the Planning Milestones of the Defence Review 2014.
The Force Employment programme constitutes 8,08% of the defence budget and is responsible for the provision and employment of defence capabilities to conduct operations. Given that it includes peace support, antipiracy operations and border safeguarding duties, it is imperative that this programme should be funded accordingly. This is seen against the background that there is a 10% decrease in funding for regional security, while the commitments have not been scaled down. This is a concern that should be addressed, especially since this programme contributes to the Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019 Outcome 3: All people in South Africa are and feel safe, and Outcome 11: Create a better South Africa and contribute to a better Africa and a better world.
The Maritime Defence programme has been allocated 8,39% of the defence budget. It plays an instrumental role in antipiracy operations along the east coast, to the extent that it has been credited with assisting to address this international scourge. We applaud their sterling performance but are concerned about the limited sea hours allocated, as this is likely to impact on force preparation and actual operations.
The committee also welcomes the introduction of the turnaround strategy by Armscor for the Naval Dockyard. The department is urged to speed up the implementation of this strategy to ensure the continued operational readiness of the Navy’s fleet. The General Support programme is the third largest, with an allocation of R5,8 billion and is responsible for the provision of general support capabilities and services to the department.
The allocation of R951,8 million over the medium term to capacitate staff and operationalise the Defence Works Formation is an initiative that the committee has been supporting since its inception. This will allow the department to repair and maintain its infrastructure and facilities which have been neglected, as witnessed during oversight visits by the committee. The priority attached to the refurbishment of military bases and headquarters is also welcomed, as is the demolition of unserviceable infrastructure.
From the above, it should be clear that the Defence Force does not only contribute to several goals of the NDP and the MTSF. It is also prioritising Planning Milestone 1: Arresting of the decline in defence capabilities, as outlined in the Defence Review 2014. It is therefore with these priorities in mind that the portfolio committee committed itself to assist the department in optimising its capabilities. This will ensure that it executes its constitutional mandate and the wishes of the people, as expressed during the wide consultation processes of the Defence Review.
The approval of this Budget Vote is indeed symbolic of our appreciation of the efforts of the Defence Force. It is also confirmation of the role of the Defence Force in a developmental state which strives to secure our people and assist our neighbours in pursuit of a better South Africa and a better Africa in a better world. Once again, the ANC supports this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr D J MAYNIER
Mr M S MOTIMELE
Mr D J MAYNIER: Chairperson, I would like to begin by welcoming the Minister back from Moscow, home of President Jacob Zuma’s favourite dictator, President Vladimir Putin. We all know the visit ended in what the Minister must have thought was a humiliating scandal, but what most of us thought was a twisted scene from the movie, The Dictator. An extra fuel stop was just too much for the President and so, at the cost of millions of rand, four chartered jets were used to transport him home, while the Minister and the rest of the entourage had to endure the indignity of flying home on commercial aircraft.
All I can say is the Minister is lucky that the President’s favourite dictator is President Vladimir Putin, and not North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong–un, who, last week, executed his Defence Minister, using anti-aircraft guns, for the relatively minor offence of falling asleep in a meeting. [Applause.] If this was North Korea - which thankfully it is not yet - the Minister would no doubt have been dispatched by anti-aircraft guns long ago for offences much more serious than falling asleep in a meeting.
We are here to debate the R44,5 billion budget for Defence in the 2015-16 financial year. We do not know much about force employment but we do know the Defence Force is deployed in some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world. So, we would like to take this opportunity to salute the men and women in uniform serving at the sharp end of the Defence Force. [Applause.] We salute you and thank you over and over again for your service to our country.
However, Minister, we are concerned about the current deployment of the Defence Force in support of the SA Police Service, as part of Operation Fiela. We all agree the Defence Force should be deployed internally in support of the SA Police Service in exceptional circumstances only. We did not oppose the deployment of the Defence Force in support of the SA Police Service, at the height of the xenophobic violence, precisely because of the exceptional circumstances. These included dealing with high levels of xenophobic violence in more than one province with limited police capability. Those exceptional circumstances no longer exist and for that reason, we believe the Defence Force’s role in Operation Fiela should be terminated immediately. There is no reason for the Defence Force to be deployed in a crime-combating operation being conducted countrywide by the SA Police Service.
We know the Defence Force is in deep trouble. We are spending too much on personnel, too little on operations and much too little on capital acquisition. We have a Defence Force geared for welfare, rather than a Defence Force geared for warfare.
The last best hope for the Defence Force is the Defence Review. The Defence Review made a brutally honest assessment of the Defence Force. The Defence Force, according to the Defence Review, is in a critical state of decline. The Defence Review also found that, even with an immediate intervention, it could take at least five years to arrest that decline. There is therefore an element of urgency. Every day wasted talking about the Defence Review, rather than implementing the Defence Review, accelerates the decline of the Defence Force.
For the past year, the Defence Review has been bogged down here, in Parliament. Why has the Defence Review been bogged down here in Parliament? The Minister wants to know and I will tell the Minister. It is not just because the ANC are lazy, though laziness is part of it. It is not just that the ANC are incompetent - but incompetence is part of it. It is not just that the ANC are disinterested, although disinterest is part of it. It’s because the ANC don’t care. They don’t care about the Defence Force and they don’t care about the soldiers in the Defence Force. That is the truth.
The Defence Review is a 344-page document, based on 436 stakeholder meetings and 76 public submissions, and it cost the taxpayer R11 million. Yet, this committee in Parliament spent less than an hour deliberating on the Defence Review before it was rubber-stamped. In the end, we know the Defence Review is not implementable because it is not affordable. That is why we’ve recommended that the Defence Review should be withdrawn from Parliament; that it should be revised so that it can be affordable and implementable; and then tabled again in Parliament - because, in the end, if the Defence Review fails, the Defence Force fails. It’s that simple.
The Defence Force has become a state-within-a-state, beyond effective control and oversight by this Parliament. We have never received a briefing on any operation by the Defence Force. We have never received a briefing on the military preparedness of the Defence Force. We have never received a briefing on defence acquisition or the billions channelled through the Special Defence Account, and we have stopped receiving replies to written parliamentary questions on issues that matter.
Nowhere is it better illustrated than in written questions probing the cost of flights undertaken by President Jacob Zuma. The standard response is: “I cannot reply to the question because the information, by its nature, is sensitive”. That is absolute rubbish and I have had enough! [Interjections.]
I will therefore be submitting a Promotion of Access to Information Act request concerning information related to President Zuma’s flights. I want the Minister to know that if she refuses to disclose the information, we will pursue this matter in court and compel the Minister to disclose the information.
In the end, I want the Minister to know this ...
Mr M S BOOI: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order: If I’ve heard properly, the member is using the word “rubbish”. I don’t think the type of language that he used is parliamentary.
Mr D J MAYNIER: Relax!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): The word “rubbish” is unparliamentary but because I did not hear it, I will refer to the Hansard and come back to the House. [Interjections.]
Mr D J MAYNIER: Chairperson, in the end, I want the Minister to know this: If you want a war, you have come to the right place. You are accountable. So, you can choose to be accountable or I will force you to be accountable. [Interjections.] It’s your choice - but hear this from me. We have had enough. It’s this far and no further. You have been warned. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M M DLAMINI
Mr D J MAYNIER
Mr M M DLAMINI: Hon Chair, hon members and hon guests, the EFF rejects the Defence and Military Veteran’s Budget Vote. [Interjections.] How could we approve the budget when the department has not completed its Defence Review Implementation Plan?
President Jacob Zuma, in his state of the nation address, said it is illegal to employ people for more than three months without giving them permanent positions. However, the SANDF recruits thousand of young people into the force, gives them two years of military training, and then terminates their contracts. The decentralisation of the recruitment will leave even more young people out of the force and dump them back into the townships, as this department has failed to employ them permanently.
A 26-year-old, Neo Mmolo, who was recruited into the Defence Force, wrote to the EFF that he was given military training, he spent two years in Bethlehem and was sent home because he was not given permanent work. In his letter he asks, “Is this the way government is fighting unemployment, by teaching young people to use weapons that kill, and then send them home to suffer in poverty?”
All recruited members of the force must be employed permanently. All salaries of the security cluster persons together with those of the public servants must be reviewed and standardised. How can we approve a budget which has inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the performance information tabled on the reports and without a chief financial officer, CFO?
We condemn the deployment of soldiers in Alexandra as a supposed response to the xenophobic violence for what it is - an expression of self-hatred and militarisation of the township, where the government responds with violence to the poor people already living under violent conditions.
Deployment of troops is used as private security for mining companies owned by white monopoly capital using their own economic security guards, which are black economic empowerment, BEE, partners.
The Military Veterans department continues to be dysfunctional without a CFO or an executive, which can only be explained by the deep-rooted corruption in that department.
Hon Minister, until we see real transformation in the Defence Force and all its recruits are employed permanently and paid decent wages, the EFF cannot support this Budget Vote. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, the Rule says that you cannot pass between the Chair and the speaker. I decided to let it go with the hon Dlamini because I think he is still new. [Interjections.] The hon Mncwango did it too. So, hon Mncwango, please, don’t do it. Continue, hon Mncwango.
Mr M A MNCWANGO
Mr M M DLAMINI
Mr M A MNCWANGO: My apologies, Madam Chairperson. Hon Chairperson, as the IFP, we support the 2015-16 departmental Budget Vote. [Applause.] We also welcome the priorities identified as the department’s focus, such as defence capability, border safeguarding and cybersecurity capabilities.
We still have some major concerns, though, with regard to the reductions in some subprogrammes of the Force Employment programme, specifically the Regional Security subprogramme, as well as training and development. This will impact negatively on the ability of the SANDF to effectively meet its regional and continental peacekeeping commitments. Peacekeeping operations, in many instances, require specialised equipment to meet operational expectations, given the topography and climate of areas where these take place. We cannot expect our men and women on the ground to carry out these missions when they are ill-equipped to deal with the situations they find themselves in.
We are also greatly concerned about the reimbursement collection from the UN and the AU in respect of the peacekeeping operations. This remains a great challenge. We urge the Minister to prioritise this issue and take steps to ensure that, in terms of agreements made, we are properly and timeously compensated. Abakhokhe, Ma. [Let them pay, Madam.]
Hon Minister, we, as the IFP, commend the supportive role that the SA Navy has played in the antipiracy activities on the coast of East Africa. Due to their involvement, there have been noticeable reductions in reported cases of piracy. It is also important that this specific area remains on our security radar because it is a strategic corridor for our economic activities, as a country, and it must also be kept safe for the passage of our commercial vessels.
As the IFP, we welcomed the creation of the Department of Military Veterans, especially because one of its strategic objectives is to look after the welfare of military veterans. However, the department needs to pull up its socks in its performance and the attainment of its strategic objectives. The fact that it received a disclaimer for the 2014-15 financial year is a blot on its financial management record.
The IFP would want the military veterans register, for instance, to be made a public document for the sake of public interest. Our people need to know who these beneficiaries are, what they do and what their age profiles are. It is inconceivable for a person to claim benefits at the age of 35 under the pretext that he or she is a military veteran. Making it public will also help avoid the misuse of resources and funds.
The strategic nature of Armscor’s role with regard to defence requirements cannot be overemphasised. The main concern that the IFP has is the fact that the skills attraction and retention strategies of Armscor have not yet yielded the desired results. This might have a negative effect on the attainment of the overall goals of the Defence Review 2014.
Global conflicts are becoming more and more sophisticated by the day, and the need for cybersecurity capabilities cannot be overemphasised. It is equally important that our defence capabilities pay particular attention to the rise of militant terrorist groups, mostly under the guise of religious fundamentalism. It is cause for concern that groups, such as Daesh, which is commonly known as Isis, and Al-Shabaab, etc, are said to have targeted South Africa as a fertile ground for recruitment. Our intelligence community, including our defence intelligence, would do well to keep a microscopic eye on these developments. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto)
Mr M A MNCWANGO
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, before I continue, I want to inform the House that there have been challenges on the use of the word “rubbish”, but what is important is the context under which it was used, because if you say somebody is speaking rubbish, that is when it is unparliamentary. That’s why I said I will listen to the Hansard and the context of that and come back to you. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto):
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Hon Chairperson; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; the Co-Chairpersons and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence; members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans; hon members; Secretary of Defence; the Chief of the SANDF; the Chiefs of Service and Divisions; the Director-General of the Department of Military Veterans and his team present; the leadership of SA National Military Veterans Association, Sanmva; uMkhonto weSizwe’s Luthuli Detachment military veterans present here; ladies and gentlemen, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.
I stand here today to elaborate on the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans of the ANC-led government, which has been elected to govern by the will of the majority of the people. In this vein, the Constitution of the Republic enjoins all of us, government, private sector and the society, to honour those who sacrificed for our democracy. Among those we must honour and ensure as government, business and society are the military veterans.
In this task of honouring the military veterans and addressing their plight, we have had challenges of a disclaimer, as issued by the Office of the Auditor-General. Currently, we have put systems in place to ensure that we change that state of affairs. That process is in operation, and we hope that, in the shortest possible time, we shall be able to give a progress report to Parliament on the measures we have taken and the systems that we have put in place. We have turned the corner.
Last year, upon assuming our duty, we committed to ensure the restoration of the dignity of military veterans. Of the total allocated budget of R582 million, R424 million has been allocated for the roll-out of all benefits and services to military veterans.
On health and wellness, requests for proposals were advertised to test the viability of providing these services differently in partnership with the private sector, in attempts to bring the services nearer to the beneficiaries. This was done on the realisation that beneficiaries often have to travel long distances for medical attention, when they could be attended to by local doctors for primary health purposes.
On education support, the initial target set was to provide 400 military veterans and their dependants with education support during this financial year. I am elated to announce that we have surpassed that target by 1 000%. Currently, 3 650 military veterans and their dependants are in receipt of education support. Of these, 1 822 are in higher education, whilst 1 828 are in basic education, at a budget cost of R130 million. [Applause.] We are pleased to have in our mist, Chumisa Mlalandle and Patrick Mangeshe, who are beneficiaries and, now, graduates. [Applause.]
With regard to compensation for injury in military servicea breakthrough has also been made, at last, in rolling out the long-awaited compensation for injury in military service, in line with the Military Pensions Act. Out of the 100 desperate cases that have been identified, 23 military veterans have received a payment, and 77 applications are currently in progress. The applicants will be paid out before the end of September 2015. A total amount of R4,2 million has been set aside for that.
An area in which there was slower delivery than planned was in housing. Working in concert with the Department of Human Settlements, the Department of Military Veterans is hard at work to ensure that the obstacles and challenges are overcome. In the last financial year, over R78 million was transferred to the Department of Human Settlements for a top-up in the construction of 1 000 houses for military veterans. In the current financial year’s budget, which we are now debating, R164 million has been set aside for the provision of housing.
A military veterans’ pension has been developed in partnership with the Government Pensions Administration Agency Special Pension and the Department of Social Development. That framework has since been converted into a policy. Before the end of this financial year, the first pension is expected to be paid to 600 military veterans at a total estimated cost of R25 million. Whilst awaiting finalisation of that process, 833 of the most destitute military veterans have been provided with social relief of distress.
An area of great concern is the public transport subsidy. The Ministry has accordingly instructed the Department of Military Veterans to give added attention to accelerating the delivery of this important benefit. An amount of R1,8 million has been set aside for this financial year to ensure commencement of the roll-out of this important benefit. Engagements with the Department of Transport and other relevant stakeholders are being undertaken to find lasting solutions.
The database verification process has effectively been completed, save for the capturing of names on the systems. A total of R10 million has been set aside for the creation of a credible database. There are some applications which are awaiting the appeal processes.
On the economic support of the military veterans, I am pleased to announce that, so far, through the Department of Military Veterans’ partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, 97 co-operatives have been registered, and 30 more are in the process of being registered. I am pleased to announce that the department will host the Military Veterans Co-operatives Indaba in the next three months.
About 50 business plans are currently being finalised, while 196 military veterans’ economic activity entities are now registered with the Small Enterprise Development Agency, Seda, to access nonfinancial assistance in the form of training from Seda.
On reduction of unemployment, the Department of Military Veterans has, to date, provided access to job opportunities for 1 940 military veterans. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Prasa, has employed a total of 926 military veterans in permanent positions.
Ntate Kabelo Mantsane ko Prasa, re a leboha. [Mr Kabelo Mantsane from Prasa, thank you.] We are sincerely grateful to Mr Lucky Montana, Group CEO of Prasa.
There are other government institutions and spheres that have supported the plight of military veterans. We would like to acknowledge and thank the municipalities across the country for having employed 904 military veterans. We would also thank the Department of Water Affairs for 110 permanent job placements at the Jericho Dam in Standerton. There shall be work and security.
Ziyalunga izinto zokhomanda. [Things are working out for the commanders.]
We also promised to attend to a better facilitation of standardised funerals for military veterans, through an initiative of burial support. This initiative has also been tested in the market, and we hope to finalise and operationalise it during the current financial year.
We are pleased to announce that we have started the process to amend the Military Veterans Act, Act 18 of 2011. The department will give priority attention to the amendment to accommodate dependants of military veterans, particularly with regard to the provision of free health care and burial support. We will ensure that it is speedily placed before Parliament and its institutional processes for consideration.
We wish to honour our comrades who recently passed on. Among them are our mother and stalwart, uMama Ruth Mompati, Comrade Hlape Melato, also known as Comrade Fish, and the late General Isidore Mbatha. It is important to mention that the late General Mbatha passed on while playing a very important role as the Defence Chief of Logistics. This was to ensure a process which would enable military veterans to benefit favourably in the military procurement procedures. May his soul, and those of the other veterans, rest in peace.
It is also important to note that General Mbatha, in his capacity as the Co-Chairperson of the Cape Castle Board, was leading his team in the reimaging and repositioning of the castle to represent its history as a centre of memory, of our history, of our colonisation - the genesis of centuries of racial oppression and conflict in our country. To this end, steps are being taken to list the Cape Castle as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, World Heritage Site.
Allow me to thank the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans for the leadership she has provided since I was given the responsibility to deputise her. She has, indeed, been the light and mentor, and I urge the House to support this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms N A MNISI
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Ms N A MNISI: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers present, hon Members of Parliament and our guests in the gallery, the ANC’s 1992 Ready to Govern policy document provided a vision of a new national Defence Force that is loyal to and upholds the Constitution of the Republic; a Defence Force that is accountable to the Republic through Parliament and respects the rights of the soldiers and citizens; a Defence Force whose professional conduct is guided by the code of conduct based on universally accepted democratic principles. This vision does not just relate to the military command, discipline and uniqueness of the environment of what has become the SANDF. It also calls for the ongoing transformation of the defence military structure and better conditions of service.
An objective of the National Development Plan is to strengthen South Africa’s position in the SADC region and increase trade and investment. We therefore commend the department for continuing to provide Defence Force support in operations to bring economic and political stability to the continent. These include contributing to the SADC Maritime Security Strategy by combating piracy along the east coast of Africa.
According to the Defence Review, the SANDF is in a critical state of decline. It is unsustainable and its prime mission equipment, especially in the landward force, faces block obsolescence. Ammunition stocks are depleted, infrastructure is falling apart, skilled staff are leaving, and the arms of the various services operate in silos and are unable to manage basic procurement, which is centralised and run by the Deputy Director-General in the Defence Secretariat.
The nub of the review is its recommendation that South Africa embark on a long-term commitment to 2034 to achieve four key Planning Milestones to rejuvenate the Department of Defence and establish commensurate capabilities. These are: Planning Milestone 1, from 2015; Planning Milestone 2, from 2017; Planning Milestone 3, from 2023; and Planning Milestone 4, from 2028.
Another key objective of the National Development Plan is to reduce youth unemployment. The Department of Defence can continue with these aspects of the plan through its National youth Service programme. The programme provides selected youth with basic skills, such as discipline, and entrepreneurial and vocational skills, before they are absorbed into government departments. These initiatives also contribute to broader social development and upliftment. Once more, we commend the department for having trained 6 745 National Youth Service members, since 2011-12. [Applause.] It is heartening to note that recruitment and training continue in the Military Skills Development System as a means of force rejuvenation. We are encouraged by the fact that 13 524 members are set to be trained over the MTEF period.
The White Paper on Defence and the Defence Review require the SANDF to consist of a relatively small regular force and an optimally larger reserve force. This principle follows the international trend of most modern defence forces. Accordingly, the defence strategy was adjusted to incorporate this thinking pattern that is aptly amplified in its human resources systems. The Military Skills Development System forms part of the new SANDF Service System and is the first career element of a three-system process. The Core Service System and the Senior Career System make up the remaining elements of this new employment initiative.
The generic MSDS model requires that initial military and specialist training be conducted during the first employment year. The second year is devoted to the operational deployment of young and fit men and women. Because the Defence Force is a department of the state, the Acts and regulations governing affirmative action and equal opportunities are strictly applied during the recruitment of potential candidates.
In conclusion, our freedom was not free. We remember and honour those who fought and died for freedom. We salute the countless numbers of people who endured untold hardships and made unimaginable sacrifices those who fought from underground, spent days, months and, too often, years incarcerated for freedom; and the women and men left behind to keep the fires burning. [Applause.]
Freedom is the bridge between our past, our present and our future. We are free to choose to construct the bridge alongside each other and in mutual service to one another. I feel free. Indeed, I am free. The ANC supports the Budget Vote. I thank you. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Mr B H HOLOMISA
Ms N A MNISI
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Hon Chairperson, Minister and members, the UDM supports Budget Vote No 19. [Applause.] In appreciation of the work of the Defence Force Service Commission which has been presented to this Parliament previously, and being privileged to be one of its members, I would like to appeal to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to convene a brainstorming session involving the Minister, the commission, the Secretary for Defence and the command element of the Defence Force. Such a session must consider the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the Defence Force Service Commission, in particular, with respect to the promise made to soldiers, that its powers will be equivalent to that of the Public Service Commission, instead of being an advisory body to the Minister.
It should be remembered that one of the burning issues at the time, and which still continues today, is that soldiers are not part of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.
The funding of this department has been a cause for concern for a long time. However, delays in processing the Defence Review make it difficult to resolve this critical matter. I have taken note of the hon Minister’s reference to the Defence Review Implementation Plan. However, more effort must be made towards its finalisation, so that it can be presented to Parliament and National Treasury within a period of three months. Further delays may necessitate the review of defence operations, both locally and abroad. In this regard, we believe that the security of South Africa is a priority in everything that our Defence Force does.
We have experienced painful and unnecessary delays in receiving feedback from the department on the reports we generate and submit in accordance with the mandate of the Defence Force Service Commission. These delays are due to the fact that the Minister and the accounting officer are frequently out of the country. We call upon the Minister and Secretary for Defence - the accounting officer - to put a moratorium on their frequent travelling outside of the country.
Okokugqibela, kohloniphekileyo uNyami Booi siyiqale kunye le nto yeKomishoni. Uyayikhumbula laa nto yee-powers. Simile ngoku kwaye andifuni nokuxoka, kangangokuba neeNkumananda zamajoni ziye zasibiza zisithi loo mcimbi awuhambeli ndawo. Ngoko ke ndicela ukuba ucebisa ikomiti yemicimbi ngee-powers zekomishoni ukwenzela ukuba xa sisenza ingxelo sizimele siyizise ePalamente siyinike uMphathiswa, hayi ngolu hlobo lokuba sinike ingxelo emva koko kuthathwe ixesha ukuze sifumane impendulo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[Lastly, to the hon Nyami Booi, we started the commission together. Do you still remember the issue of powers? I must be honest, we are not progressing now. As a result, the Defence Force Commanders called us and said this matter isn’t progressing. Therefore, I would like to advise the portfolio committee about the powers of the commission so that we draw up a report, independently, and present it to the Minister in Parliament, instead of presenting it and waiting for a long time to receive feedback.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
Mnu B H HOLOMISA: Kutheni? Oh! Sendigqibile. Enkosi. [Kwaqhwatywa.] [Why? Alright, I’m finished. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Dr P J GROENEWALD
Mr B H HOLOMISA
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, in 1994 was ek in Pietersburg, nou Polokwane, met die Weermagparade en die saluut is waargeneem deur Nelson Mandela wat toe President was. Sy woorde was dat ons ’n trotse Weermag het. Die wapentuig is ten toon gestel – ’n professionele, gedissiplineerde Weermag. Dit is wat die ANC geërf het.
Hy het ’n verdere hoogtepunt bereik. Die verdere hoogtepunt was dat daar ’n wapenaankopeprogram was. Aanvanklik is dit op R30 miljard bereken, maar het uiteindelik by R70 miljard gedraai. In terme van vegvliegtuie was die Gripen-vegvliegtuig een van die mees gesofistikeerde vegvliegtuie. Die duikbote – met ander woorde, die erfporsie van die ANC wat betref die SA Nasionale Weermag was ’n goeie, ryk nalatenskap.
Agb Minister, wat het intussen gebeur? Ons verloor soldate en hulle sterf in die Sentraal-Afrikaanse Republiek, want daar is nie behoorlike lugondersteuning nie. Waar is die Gripens? Hulle is weggesteek in ’n stoor. Hoekom? Wat het daarvan geword? Ons moet lees en sien dat ’n duikboot gedurende ’n oefening-operasie teen die seebodem bots. Agb Minister, wat het geword van ons opleidingstandaarde? Die agb Mnisi verwys na dissipline. Dan moet die mense van Suid-Afrika lees van ’n kolonel in haar uniform wat met pienk “slippers” rondloop.
’n AGB LID: Pantoffels!
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Pantoffels! Hoe is dit moontlik? [Tussenwerpsels.] Daar is hoeveel sulke voorbeelde. Die ergste is wat ons in Oudtshoorn gevind het waar daar ’n partytjie gehou word en waar ’n senior offisier wat besope is so ver gaan om die reaksiemag van die Weermag met skerppuntammunisie in konflik te bring met die SA Polisie.
Ek het ’n vraag gevra. U het geantwoord. U sê daar is dissiplinêr teen hom opgetree. Agb Minister, ek sal wil hê u moet vir Suid-Afrika vanmiddag vertel watter dissiplinêre stappe u gedoen het, want ek sê vandag vir u dat daardie senior offisier sedisie gepleeg het, daarvoor aangekla behoort te word, en nie ’n dag langer in die SA Nasionale Weermag hoort te wees het nie. Daardie insident behoort eintlik vir u, as ANC-beheerderegering, ook ’n waarskuwing te wees om te sê daar kan magte wees wat die reg in eie hande neem en selfs ’n staatsgreep toepas. As u nie gaan optree nie, dan sê ek vir u dat u swak dissipline in Suid-Afrika bevorder. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Agb Minister, wat het geword van daardie ryk erfenis? Ons moet die antwoorde kry daarop. Ek dank u. [Tyd verstreke.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Dr P J GROENEWALD: Chair, in 1994, I attended a military parade in Pietersburg, now Polokwane. The salute was taken by Nelson Mandela who was the President at the time. He informed us that we had a proud Defence Force. The arms were displayed – a professional, disciplined army. That is what the ANC inherited.
He made mention of another highlight. This referred to an arms acquisition programme. Initially it was estimated at R30 billion but eventually became R70 billion. With regard to fighter aircraft, the Gripen fighter jet was one of the most sophisticated fighter aircraft. The submarines – in other words, the inheritance which the SA Defence Force bequeathed to the ANC was an excellent, rich legacy.
Hon Minister, what has happened since then? We are losing soldiers and they die in the Central African Republic because there is no proper air support. Where are the Gripens? They are hidden in a hangar. Why? What became of them? We have to read about and be informed that a submarine crashed onto the ocean floor. Hon Minister, what has happened to our training standards? The hon Mnisi refers to discipline. Then again, the people of South Africa have to read about a colonel who walks around in uniform in pink slippers.
An HON MEMBER: “Slippers!”
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Slippers! How is it possible? [Interjections.] There are many similar examples. The worst case we found happened in Oudtshoorn where a party was held and where a senior officer who was intoxicated went so far as to cause friction between the reaction force of the Defence Force who had live ammunition and the SA Police.
I asked a question. You gave an answer. You said that disciplinary action was taken against him. Hon Minister, I would like you to tell South Africa this afternoon what disciplinary action you took, because I say to you today that that senior officer committed sedition, he should be charged accordingly, and not be in the SA Defence Force a day longer. That incident should, in fact, also be a warning to you, as the ANC-led government, an illustration that there could be forces who could take the law into their own hands and stage a coup d’etat. If you don’t act, then I say to you that you encourage ill discipline in South Africa. [Interjections.]
Hon Minister, what happened to that rich heritage? We have to have answers. I thank you. [Time expired.]]
Ms D CARTER
Dr PJ GROENEWALD
Ms D CARTER: Chairperson, I would like to start off by thanking the Defence Force for its magnificent contribution to peace even though the budgetary constraints make that so difficult. Your sacrifices are not going unseen. I thank you.
Hon Minister, war does not tell us, or warn us when it will break out. Our country’s Defence Force must be strong enough to defend our citizens and our country. The Defence Force is there to defend our country against external threats and to play a supportive role in very specialised areas to maintain stability in our society. This includes assisting the Police Service – and I reiterate: Police Service. In order to play a supportive role, only specialised units with appropriate training and skills may be used in civilian action. Where such supporting roles are required, it must be for limited periods so that no impression is created that we are a military state.
The recent deployment of Defence Force personnel to go out and raid homes was a misleading action. At no stage were we informed that the authority of our government had fallen into the hands of foreign forces or what these foreign forces consisted of. There was no indication given to any of us that parts of South Africa were controlled by alien forces. Hon Minister, it must be stopped immediately.
To the hon Mnisi, you talk about the Constitution. This government has no regard for the Constitution, for the supreme law of our country. [Interjections.]
The Defence Force cannot make the mistake that the French army made at the outbreak of World War II. Listen and learn! [Interjections.] It must remain at the forefront of innovation and technology. The size of a defence force is irrelevant, and bureaucracy is a dangerous enemy, as the French found out. Technological capabilities and capable military decision-making are most significant. A defence force that can take military decisions when given the command to do so is the type of defence force we need to develop.
The role of research in this regard is very significant. Hon Minister, I want to commend the research of one Gerhard Martin Louw, who completed his research on South African defence policy and capabilities in December 2013. I am indebted to his research.
After the 1998 South African Defence Review, government made an important distinction between the security of a state and the security of the people. There is no doubt that the greatest threat to the security of the South African people comes not from external sources but from within. Our security is under threat because of unacceptably high levels of poverty, unemployment, crime and violence. This danger is an extreme danger.
To use the police and the army to quell protests arising from socioeconomic grievances misses the strategic departure point of armies in the modern world. Armies must build trust and work with society, not against it. Our Defence Force, in terms of section 200(2), has to act strictly “in accordance with the Constitution”. For this reason, it is imperative that the Defence Force acquires new and additional peacetime capabilities and a deep and abiding understanding of our Constitution. Only then will the Defence Force execute its peace support operations and internal deployment in co-operation with the SAPS in a manner consistent with the Constitution.
This is a safeguard for the army as well as the people. Any defence force, for the purpose of total readiness, must continuously rehearse the role it is most likely to play each year as that year unfolds. It must do so to test constitutional compliance and excellence, as well. Both the level of the soldiers’ skills, as well as organisational competence of commanders to execute their respective tasks must show a high level of proficiency. I thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr J J SKOSANA
Ms D CARTER
Mr J J SKOSANA: Hon Chairperson, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, hon Mapisa-Nqakula; Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers; Chairperson of Portfolio Committee of Defence and Military Veterans; the director-general of Defence and all defence and military family; hon members and distinguish guests; fellow South Africans, I greet you all. Firstly, I would like to support the Budget Vote because this is a budget of the people.
On 27 April 1994, the people of South Africa went all out and stood in long queues under a hot sun and in the rain to vote for their beloved organisation, the ANC. This has happened after the citizens of this country made a call to the ANC saying they need transformation of the state machinery and government, at large. The Defence Force was not an exception to the process.
It should be borne in mind that the Defence Force remains an amalgamation of the former apartheid and Bantustan statutory forces together with the nonstatutory forces of the liberation movement. During apartheid, the Defence Force was meant to secure and protect privilege for the white minority, and it was most pronounced in this respect. Vestiges of the legacy of apartheid remain in the nature of the defence personnel and therefore there should be a decisive strategy to address this situation.
According to the Defence Review, there will be career management by the Services and Staff Division through a standardised career management process. This aligns organisational with individual career development or progression. Accordingly, Defence will ensure clear career-pathing and development programmes per mustering and speciality.
According to the Defence Review, the following principles, amongst others, will be pursued to enhance defence career management. Career and succession planning promotes the transfer of skills and competencies. Career paths are effectively communicated and individual career plans are regularly updated and compiled in consultation with the employee. Succession plans are available two years in advance.
During the state of the nation address of 2014, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma stated categorically that the conditions of employment of Defence and Military Veterans should be addressed. These challenges faced by the Department of Defence and Military Veterans are also a concern of the ANC-led government. The ANC’s 53rd national conference at Mangaung resolved that there should be a dedicated budget for the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, which should be adequate resources.
The second radical transition from apartheid to the national democratic society is underpinned by the realisation that the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment is yet to be fully addressed. These challenges have many a negative impact on the lives of the people of this country. It is most evident in the lack of opportunities for economically active citizens to earn a wage. Poverty affects individuals and households in a manner that is often degrading and leads to precarious lifestyles. However, the linkages between income, poverty and deprivation in health care, education and social infrastructure are direct, with devastating consequences for individuals in society.
In order to foster economic transformation, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans has embarked on a concerted drive for economic growth and mobilising national resources towards developmental goals. These goals include economic growth, with development being prioritised through a sustained policy climate fostering productive investment, exports, growth and human welfare; transformation of the economic base, by promoting productive, income-generating economic activities and by ensuring that economic growth has the effect of improving the living conditions of the majority of the population; and a policy with clearly defined socioeconomic objectives, including the alleviation of poverty, the correction of glaring inequalities in social conditions and the tackling of looming threats to environmental degradation.
One of the most important sectors within the Department of Defence and Military Veterans is Defence Intelligence. Intelligence is a critical function that is used to support the planning, preparation and execution of military operations. It is essential to integrate the intelligence operating system into the other operating systems.
During apartheid, intelligence was used against the activists of the ANC and its alliance. The ANC-led government has changed it to be used for the security of the citizens of this country and the state. The primary function of the intelligence operating system is to enable the taking of well-informed military decisions based on accurate understanding of the situation.
It is fundamental that the respective combat services each have tailored and unique intelligence functions to support their contribution to military operations. This implies that each of the combat services should provide for the full spectrum of intelligence functions, namely intelligence collection, processing, and dissemination. For the country to maintain peace and stability within and outside, it needs the involvement of the Defence Force in a variety of complex operational environments. This requires its intelligence capability to be sensitive to a more complex world that is prone to rapid changes coupled with a wide range of challenges.
As I conclude, air space forms part of the country’s territory that must be secured. In aviation, environmental challenges continue in areas such as airport controls at landing facilities, transit management and the general security process.
Siyaqhuba. Siragela phambili. We continue. Re tswela pele. Thank you very much. [Time expired.]
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr J J SKOSANA
Mr L R MBINDA: Hon Chair and members, the PAC supports this Budget Vote. [Interjections.]
Uya kusoloko ubuza yonke le mihla. [You will keep on asking every day.]
The reason we support this budget is that we know it especially affects those who were in the nonstatutory forces, and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, Apla, is one of those. The PAC is not a product of democracy. We were there in the heyday of the struggle. [Applause.] So, the work must continue.
Our veterans are the ones who helped us to get where we are, politically, and we should be providing for them first, rather than letting them get the scraps and pieces of what is left over. There are thousands of veterans who are still not receiving services because of the corruption and mismanagement of this department, whereas there are millions of rand being spent by this same department on personnel - trips and -entertainment, etc. If the veterans cannot be properly identified and verified, then how does the department hope to fulfil its promise of providing services to them?
A 10% increase in the budget is not sufficient, at all. The department has allocated about 63% towards the empowerment of veterans. Will this be enough for actual empowerment?
The PAC believes we should be using the skills that our veterans possess. It is not enough just to say that they should participate in the economy through Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, BBBEE, and land reform initiatives. The skills that our veterans have acquired are invaluable to our country and could be used to build the nation.
We should not forget about former political prisoners because we refer to them as political veterans. We must remember that in this country we still have political people who fought tirelessly for the liberation of mankind, yet those people are still languishing in jail. So, Minister, we need to remind you that when you are allocating the budget, they must also be taken care of.
The department needs to be accountable and also a monitoring body, especially for the entities it embodies. The Defence Ministry should use the technical skills that these veterans have in the force and not use contractors, because we are using a lot. Why should we use contractors when we have people with all these skills?
Reducing funding on landward defence and training of soldiers is a very short-sighted solution. The Defence Force has a mandate to deliver fully with regard to its constitutional responsibility, which is to defend and protect South Africa and its people. There is so much political manipulation at play in military issues - more than what is required. In the end, the politicians have no idea of the actual needs with regard to military issues.
Enkosi kakhulu. [Kwaqhwatywa.] [Thank you very much. [Applause.]]
Mr S C MNCWABE
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr S C MNCWABE: Hon Chairperson, Minister, Deputy Minister, hon members and the leadership of the Defence Force present here, South Africa’s Defence Force is currently rated fourth on the African continent in respect of its military strength and firepower. Our aircraft and naval vessels are very well equipped with the latest technology, and although we have fewer than 100 000 active frontline personnel, we have the capability and manpower for much more. This, together with our vast array of land system technology, makes the South African military a force to be reckoned with. However, the question is for how long we will be able to maintain this ranking.
The Defence Force is primarily in place to defend the sovereignty of our country from outside aggression. Yet, we see soldiers now being deployed against civilians to support the SA Police in Operation Fiela. Whereas the NFP acknowledges that the intention may be noble, we do feel a deep sense of unease at this move by the state. We are reminded that the apartheid regime, in its futile efforts to cling to power and perpetuate political dominance, also deployed the Defence Force against its citizens. Such political moves created a dangerous precedent and the NFP wishes to caution the government against making the same mistake that the apartheid government made. We suggest that the Defence Force be deployed to strengthen border security, as it is one of its stated priorities, and leave law enforcement to the SA Police Service.
The NFP also welcomes the department’s intention to prioritise the maintenance of the defence capabilities of the force and to develop cybersecurity capability. Minister, together with more effective border security, these priorities of the Defence Force must be supported without reservation. However, it remains to be seen how the Defence Force will be able to maintain its defence capabilities when we note the reduction in critical areas, such as reduced landward defence funding, flying hours, fuel and training funding in the air force, to mention but a few.
The increased allocation to Armscor is another concern of the NFP. While we accept that Armscor has a pivotal role to play in maintaining and increasing our defence capabilities, we are also concerned that it is not making more of an effort to become financially self-sustaining. In addition, the NFP also notes the loss of skilled personnel at Armscor and is unsure whether this can be wholly attributed to matters of remuneration or whether hidden political agendas are being played out in this arena too.
Finally, the NFP has serious reservations about the effectiveness of the way the department is handling matters relating to military veterans. A lack of administrative and financial order is a cause for grave concern. This is not only because it raises issues of accountability and transparency but also because the ineptitude of the department is impacting negatively on those who have sacrificed much more for the liberation of our country. The NFP urges the department to urgently attend to this blot on its name and to do social justice to the military veterans, which they well deserve.
Having expressed the above concerns, the NFP supports this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S ESAU
Mr S C MNCWABE
Mr S ESAU: Hon Chairperson, I dedicate this speech in defence of military veterans. This Department of Military Veterans continues to obstruct and defeat the ends of justice, characterised as it is by poor leadership, poor management and moving targets. Since 1994, the demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration process has been substantially effective, except for the reintegration.
Fundamental challenges have not been addressed for the past 20 years and remain a risk and threat to our democracy. A major disturbing factor is that many a military veteran continues to be marginalised and excluded, intentionally.
I want to raise the issue of the four strategic risks raised by this very department. The first one is the database, on which 57 000 military veterans are registered. To date, only 40%, or 22 800, have been verified. The plan is to increase this by 100% to 45 600 by this financial year. During the four outer years, the balance of 20% will be completed by 5% per year. This means that this database will only be completed by 2020. This database is a prerequisite for any benefit to a military veteran. [Interjections.]
Now, what does this mean? Effectively, we are saying that 11 208 military veterans receive health care benefits. For the past two years, 845 military veterans have received bursaries. In the past two years, 2 974 have received training skills and development. There have been three medal parades in the past two years!
Who were the beneficiaries, when the database remains incomplete, inaccurate and not finalised? Why is this? [Interjections.] This is very important for us. In terms of the Military Veterans Act, ipso facto, any soldier that left the active service and was not dishonourably discharged is a military veteran. Moreover, all the records of the statutory forces are there. The Certified Personnel Registers, CPRs, were handed over, in 1994, at the inception of this new democracy. Where are all those CPRs? Why do military veterans have to run around for information and certificates when it’s all on record?
This is a serious problem within this department - there is wilful ... or an unwillingness to deal with military veterans. Is it not fair that everybody should be assessed and after assessment, a determination made of who qualifies in terms of the regulations that we have approved, as a Parliament? Who qualifies? No, it is done incrementally and only those who are verified amongst them - amongst them! - benefit.
It is quite clear in yesterday’s article that there is even dissatisfaction within the ranks of the uMkhonto weSizwe, MK, veterans, about who receives benefits. It is a perception that prevails amongst all other military veterans - MK veterans are being given preference and privilege and are being favoured at the expense of all other military veterans. [Applause.]
This department needs to disprove that and come clean on this matter and we can only know that if we know who the actual beneficiaries are. Who are they? What are their names? Which formations did they belong to? Not a single question I posed to this department, to the Ministry, has been answered adequately.
I want to conclude by saying to the department that its effective communications and strategy plan is totally ineffective and does not give access to military veterans. Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, the promise that the database would be finished last year in December was never fulfilled.
Demonstrate corporate governance through effective leadership and sound management and transform this special department into a prestigious institution that will make us proud and, moreover, our deserving heroes proud. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M S BOOI
Mr S ESAU
Mr M S BOOI: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, the commanding structure of the Defence Force and the broad body of the Defence Force, good afternoon.
To the men and women who have got the capabilities to defend our country, we are here, as Parliament and different representatives, to talk to you about how responsible we are in being able to look after your interests. Something that you should know and trust is that this institution called Parliament, and its parliamentarians, do take their work very seriously. The divergence of use proves to you that, as men and women in Parliament, we are here to come and talk about you to be able to look after what we think you should benefit from, as the people who are protecting our country. In the process of debate, however, there will sometimes be those that mislead us and we always have to correct them because it is our job, as the ruling party, to give guidance to those that we think are misleading our people. [Applause.]
Hon Dlamini, we welcome you in Parliament. We will always make sure that you understand the Constitution because there is no way we want you to function outside the Constitution. Section 200 clearly stipulates that the primary objective of the Defence Force is to defend and protect the Republic, the territorial integrity and the people of South Africa. That’s what the Constitution says. So, whatever arguments we are presenting, we didn’t find them unconstitutionally. That’s what Parliament has to be able to provide guidance on: Is there a violation of the Constitution?
We must tell you that Operational Fiela is on course. We do not doubt that. It’s in the Constitution and the President has followed all the procedures. To be able to help the hon member from COPE, it’s not 200, it’s 201. The one before is where they clearly explain the procedures that have to be followed and clearly stipulate what Parliament’s role is. For us who sit on the defence committee - it’s not even a defence committee it’s a joint defence committee - that’s what the President has done.
The President writes to us, we listen to the President and through that process, we think the process has been quite genuine and quite honest. That’s how we must feel about the Constitution and that’s how we must protect the needs of the Defence Force. We should not exaggerate what we read in the newspapers because you don’t do threat analysis. You are a Member of Parliament. The people who do threat analysis in terms of the military are in the Defence Force, and they are the only ones in this country who can tell us what type of threat we are confronted with.
We should never thumb-suck our approach. One thing that we must always guard against, which is provided for in the Constitution, is to demoralise soldiers. Never do that. It is a moral duty for us to defend them. [Applause.] It’s on that basis that we are continuously going to plead with you. Read the Constitution when you come here and read the National Development Plan, because if you do not read those documents you’ll never be able to understand why we think we should be watching and walking together with you.
One of the things that the NDP emphasises, time and again, is that we should be able to have a capable state and we should be able to have a developmental state. It’s here. I’ve got the document here. I can provide you with a copy if you don’t have it so that we continuously walk together, because this thing of the ruling party running too fast in vision and in work does cause quite a number of people challenges. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
It’s important. This ingenuity must not be allowed. It’s important for us to be able to say to each other that, in the defence committee, we have all gone to the SA Air Force and we do know from our own responsibilities that it’s not the President that co-ordinates the trips. The Constitution doesn’t provide for that. Not even the Rules provide for that. Co-ordinating that responsibility lies with the air force.
I continuously lecture the hon Maynier on the basis of threat analysis because it’s not the President that sits there and says, “President Putin, I want to go home”. No, he doesn’t. It’s the soldiers that make those decisions because it’s their responsibility. If they don’t do that and protect the President, we’ll fire them, because that’s the commander in chief and that’s what the Constitutions states. It’s not something personal. The hon President Zuma doesn’t wake up in the night and say, “I want to go to Russia”. There are responsibilities. [Interjections.] Within that, what you get ... you see, the problem with you is that you work on gossip. That’s your problem– and you’ll never be a good ...
When the NDP states that Parliament must get capabilities and be able to produce professional people, I should think they were referring to you. [Laughter.] You should be able to get an understanding of how the institution functions. The less you understand how Parliament functions, the less you will ever be able to understand how these committees function, and your attack becomes very personal. We don’t appreciate that in the defence committee.
You know, from where we are seated, as members of the defence committee, in the study group, and even in the portfolio committee, we appreciate your contributions. We appreciate them as far as you are able to tell us the truth, but you don’t do that. You are misleading the broad public of defence people into them believing that the President is here to come and stand and say, “Look, is there an oil leak there? Can you please find another place for me?” He doesn’t. He is in a meeting, somebody is taking responsibility and that is the Defence Force. You know that’s what is happening. You were there.
You are one of those that have been consistently complaining about the air force flying hours. I mean how much time do they have? You are the one who says we must increase their flying hours. Now, the disingenuity is when you forget those things when you see your other members. In the committee, you have expressed this concern. This afternoon, I have shown you the reports. Those reports are reflective of the work that we are doing together with you in the portfolio committee. However, we do understand. You do struggle, when it comes to the public, to be very impressive, but please, remain within the truth of what we are discussing in the defence committee. [Laughter.]
You don’t know anything. Keep quiet! You are failing to co-ordinate the policy. Do your work there, so that, at the end of the day, that’s where we are with you. We are working together - drink more water so that you are able to do that work in a very genuine way. [Interjections.] Yes, he must also behave but at the end of the day, hon members, the Ministry and the department have done a sterling job. That’s where we are standing today with the responsibility of the Defence Force.
That’s why we say we understand Operation Fiela. What you find is a joke, I have observed. At no stage when they go into a house does the Defence Force react first. They stand aside. They don’t do anything. They look to the police. On operations when the police are there, the first people who go to the door are the police. In addition, there is no way that when they get into the house they ask, “What nationality are you?”, and only then start acting. There’s nothing like that. -It’s not in the law.
They go there because they have been told they have identified, through the threat analysis, that crime is being committed there, and we must be able to respond to that. At the end of the day, when they respond to crime, those that are feeling the pinch, those that are supporting criminals, will shout like that. [Interjections.] They know their support mechanisms, how they are running behind criminals, trying to make sure that the criminals destabilise the country. That’s the type of behaviour you get, then. For those of us who are concerned about the country and destabilisation, having the Defence Force members with the police is very good.
We are very consistent in protecting our country. We are very good at upholding the Constitution of our country. We should be able to say, hon Minister, that you have done one of the most stunning things. We should welcome the member that has been at Armscor. You promised us that you’ll be able to appoint the Armscor Board. You have appointed a businessman in Armscor.
In conclusion, what we know from that particular matter is that whatever we have put together for the Defence Review will be achievable. Thank you. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Colleagues, I would like to request our invited guests not to participate in the debate. Enjoy the debate, view it, but do not participate in it.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Mr M S BOOI
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson, hon members, let me start by thanking all the members who participated in this debate. This was a very successful debate. Of the parties that participated, I think only one party did not support our Budget Vote. I think that is recognition that work is being done by the SA National Defence Force. [Applause.]
Not only that, I also appreciate the fact that almost all parties are concerned about the fact that the Defence Review process has not been completed. I fully agree with the general. We should come and present the implementation plan of the Defence Review. We are very ready.
Please, there is no executive authority that can impose him- or herself on the portfolio committee. Members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, please call us to appear before the portfolio committee so that we can present this information, as the information is available.
I do worry sometimes because you gave an impression that people think that you don’t want to appear before the committee, when you have not been invited and told exactly what to come and present before the committee.
The second issue is ... you know, hon ... hon ... [Interjections.] ... next to ... hon ... Kyler, hon Kyler ... next to ... next to the hon James Wilmot ... no, no, no ... [Interjections.] Hon Kohler ... Hon Kohler ...
Ms D KOHLER: May I assist the Minister, Sir? I am the hon Kohler-Barnard.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Thank you very much, hon ... hon Kohler-Barnard! That’s the name I was looking for!
Dr W G JAMES: Chair, may I assist the Minister? I am the hon Wilmot James. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Hon Wilmot James! Thank you very much.
Can I just say that ... [Interjections.] You are delaying me now. Don’t sidetrack me.
Hon Kohler-Barnard, I am amazed by the amount of talking and screaming you have been doing in that corner. You are not even a member of that committee. You are talking about troops ... [Interjections.] You are screaming about the presence of troops inside ... In fact, we actually ran a campaign in the 1980s that threw you out of the townships because you were maiming our people. [Interjections.] We are the ones who taught you that it is not the mandate of the Defence Force to do policing work.
Ms D KOHLER: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order. The Minister has just now accused me personally ... [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon members, no! Order, hon members! No, no, no! Hold on, hold on ...
Ms D KOHLER: I’m happy to wait until you get order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon members, we want to hear the hon member. [Interjections.] Hon members, the Minister is replying and is closing the debate. Hon Mabe ... hon Mabe ... also, it’s advisable though that, when a member stands up, the member should cite the Rule, because otherwise all of us are going to stand up as we like. Cite which Rule you are using to stand up on and then, if you don’t have that ...
Ms D KOHLER: I am rising on a point of order, Sir.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No, I’m trying ...
Ms D KOHLER: I am rising on a point of order. I have been accused by the Minister of slaughtering people. I would ask you to review the Hansard ... [Interjections.] ... and I would ask for a withdrawal immediately because we cannot do it after this debate; it is not allowed. So, I would ask that I receive an apology and a withdrawal of the vile comments made about me.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: The SA Defence Force of the past, in whatever capacity you may have served ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister ...
Ms D KOHLER: If you would make a ruling, Sir ... [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: I am not going to withdraw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No. We are going to come back to it. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: Sit down!
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: There is no chair. I can’t sit on the floor.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Carter?
Ms D CARTER: Chairperson, I was hoping that we would ask for a withdrawal. [Interjections.]
On Thursday last week ... [Interjections.] On Thursday last week, I was asked to leave the House for casting aspersions. What has happened now is exactly the same. Therefore, please ask the hon Minister to withdraw, and you can still consult the Hansard. Thank you.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Dlakude ... The Minister, really ... it’s preferable, though, not to disturb the Minister when she is concluding the debate. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: So she can say what she likes? I don’t believe you!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No, just hold on a little bit, because I requested you to cite a Rule, and you didn’t cite a Rule.
An HON MEMBER: A point of order is a Rule!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No.
Ms D KOHLER: The point of order is that I have been maligned by the Minister in this House. I am asking for her to withdraw and apologise.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Kohler-Barnard, there are 1 700 Rules. Every Rule has a number.
An HON MEMBER: Rule 10.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Please, you can say number 10, but we mustn’t ...
Ms D KOHLER: I do not know the number, but if it is stated that I was slaughtering people, then I will have her withdraw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No ...
Ms D KOHLER: I will take it to the Speaker! [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No ... I’m trying ...
Ms D KOHLER: You may not do this to me, Sir.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No. No, no, no. Hon ...
Ms D KOHLER: You may not say I must give you the number of a Rule or regulation ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No ...
Ms D KOHLER: I know when I have been falsely ... [Interjections.] ... I have been slandered in this House!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon member, I am trying my level best to assist you. I’m assisting you. [Interjections.] And ... [Interjections.] No ... just hold on a little bit. Let us hear what you are saying. I made this point earlier on that I always request members to cite a Rule, because everyone who stands up without citing a Rule makes it difficult for presiding officers to make a decision. Hon Dlakude?
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I just want to say that inasmuch as you have ruled that you are going to listen to the Hansard, the Minister’s response is based on what the hon member has said. So, it is not as if the Minister is starting something new. The hon member said something that the Minister heard, and she is responding to that. [Interjections.] They throw punches at us. If they cannot take it when we give it back to them, then ...
Ms D KOHLER: I would like to know what number this Rule is. I was accused of slaughtering people in the townships, personally, by that Minister. I don’t need a number; I want a withdrawal and an apology!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No ... [Interjections.] Hon members ... no ...
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No ...
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon members ... just hold on a little bit.
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): You are delaying the sitting unnecessarily.
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, may I address you?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Yes?
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, you asked the hon Kohler-Barnard to cite a Rule, but then, when the hon Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party stood up, you didn’t ask her to cite a Rule. Can we have some consistency in this House, please? [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No. It is just ... [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: Sorry? [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hold on! Hold on, hon members!
Mr M WATERS: Was it only for this side of the House?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): You are also doing exactly what they have done, incorrectly.
Mr M WATERS: Which is what?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Because I requested everyone from the beginning to do so. Even you, yourself, you are doing exactly that. [Interjections.] The hon Dlakude was wrong. You, yourself, are wrong. [Interjections.]
Hon Minister, you are concluding. The hon member requested the Hansard. We will come back and make a ruling on that.
Please, hon members, it is always advisable to use parliamentary language in a debate like this, because it makes it easy for us to participate, and no member should be offended by a language. So, just stick to parliamentary language. The best thing to do is to do that. You won’t miss any point if you stick to parliamentary language. Let us do that.
Ms D KOHLER: I beg your pardon. [Interjections.] Have you asked the Minister to withdraw and apologise to me for saying that I personally slaughtered people in the townships?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): No.
Ms D KOHLER: That is what she said! [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Kohler-Barnard, I thought that you requested the presiding officer to listen to the Hansard and come back and give a ruling.
Ms D KOHLER: With all due respect, I think you well know that withdrawals of comments made in the course of an EPC sitting cannot be done after we rise. The apology must come here. The retraction must happen here and now. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister ... [Interjections.] We have already taken 10 minutes, really. Hon Minister, did you say that?
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson, I want to make a request that you go and study the Hansard, and come back and make a ruling on the matter. If I did say that, then you will tell me to withdraw, and I will withdraw, but, for now, go and study the Hansard and hear what I said. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Proceed, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY: Chairperson ...
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, on a point of order. You have asked the Minister whether or not she said those words. The Minister can answer here and now. [Interjections.] If she had any dignity, and if she were honest, she would tell the House that she did say those words and she would withdraw. You have just asked the Minister!
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson, allow me... allow me to finish ...
Mr M WATERS: How can a Minister ... [Interjections.] I’m still talking, Minister.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson, allow me to finish.
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, how can the Minister give you an instruction?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon ... hon ...
Mr M WATERS: Who is in charge here? You or the Minister?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister, on the point that I was asking you, did you say those words or not?
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: No. [Interjections.] Exactly! I know exactly what I said. If you go to the Hansard, you will find it. [Interjections.] If the meaning of what I said is what you are interpreting it to be, so be it. [Interjections.]
Now, hon Chair, thank you very much for the support for the Defence Review. [Interjections.] [Applause.] I also want to ... [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: I am disgusted. I will be reporting it to the Speaker. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon members, let us not make a noise. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Hon members, thank you very much. I’m sorry that my debate ended on a dramatic note. However, it was, indeed, a very good debate, very constructive, indeed, and I am very happy that we are where we are today. [Applause.]
Somebody mentioned that the Defence Force actually conducts raids on houses. There is no truth in that allegation. In fact, all of us know that when the police conduct Operation Fiela, the Defence Force is simply there in support of the police. The people who have been conducting the raids are, in fact, the police. You have not seen a member of the Defence Force inside a building and conducting raids. So, let’s be factual in the things we raise.
Lastly, it is true that there are challenges to do with the rolling out of services for our military veterans. However, it is actually not true to suggest that it is only uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association, MKMVA, members who benefit from these services. That particular piece of paper which you had, hon Esau, actually contains a complaint from an MKMVA military veteran about the rolling out of services.
Only this weekend, we buried a military veteran, Comrade Fish. That man died in the shack where he lived. It is embarrassing. It is for that reason that we have decided that we want to have a turnaround team which will move into the Department of Military Veterans and try to assist the management of the Department of Military Veterans to sort out some of their challenges. [Applause.]
So, the problem with services is a problem affecting all the veterans. On the matter of the database, it is true, hon members, that the database which we have may not necessarily be as credible as we would wish it to be. It is for that reason that I want to announce that I have now appointed an Appeals Board to look at issues in the Department of Military Veterans. It will be chaired by Mr Mavuso Msimang. Part of that team will be Adv Fhedzisani, Nomsa Mkwanazi, Adv Morolo, and F Hartzenberg. Those are the people who will constitute this Appeals Board, precisely because we need to deal with the issues of the credibility or not of this database which is in our possession.
Lastly, I am glad that the honourable General has raised the matter of the Defence Force Service Commission, not only the matter of powers. I am sure that, as you sit here, you worry and are concerned about the fact that there are salary recommendations that you have made. Even though the law says that the Minister should take the decision on matters of the budget, on matters of money, I, as Minister of Defence, have absolutely no say. What we are doing is raising the matter in a mandate committee, so that that committee can give us support, so that we go to the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, MinComBud, and get the money we need.
The truth of the matter – and all of you know this – is that we have a huge backlog in the Defence Force, a big problem that is a lack of financial resources. I thank you all, hon members. [Time expired.]
The Committee rose at 16:10.
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