ATC130605: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on its Oversight visits to Selected South African Air Force Bases in Western Cape, Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and Free State Provinces; and Site visit to Selected Armscor Research and Development Facilities – dated 15 May 2013

Defence and Military Veterans




1. On 29 January – 1 February 2013, the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (the Committee) undertook oversight visits to Air Force Base (AFB) Langebaanweg ( Western Cape ), AFB Hoedspruit and Makhado ( Limpopo Province ), AFB Durban ( KwaZulu-Natal ), AFB Bloemspruit ( Free State ) and selected Armscor Research and Development facilities ( Gauteng ).

2. This report comprises observations made during each of the visits (Parts A-F) as well as the Committee’s recommendations (Part G). It should be noted that at the time of writing this report, questionnaires for the submission by the Officers Commanding of each base, was still outstanding. Consequently, important information that may have enhanced this report is not included.

3. The visits comprised orientation briefings by base management, a tour of facilities, interactions with soldiers, and finally de-briefing sessions.

4. Numerous allegations of misconduct, abuse of power and unfair appointment procedures at bases have been raised during the Committee’s interaction with soldiers. Some of these concerns have been captured in the report but have not been tested. Matters raised would be revisited once the Department of Defence (DOD) has had an opportunity to investigate and report on them. We trust that grievances submitted to the Department would be dealt with accordingly.

5. Challenges identified during the oversight visits to South African Air Force (SAAF) bases, are not new to the Committee and thus the observations and recommendations made in this report should be read along with previous Committee reports, adopted by the National Assembly (NA).

6. Mindful of our mandate, the Committee remains concerned about the pace of and commitment to transformation within the SAAF; as well as soldiers’ perception of the purpose and consequence of transformation initiatives. We re-iterate that the implementation and adherence to transformation policies should be assessed in order to understand the challenges hampering the development of a Defence Force that is appropriately skilled, gender and demographically representative and capable of operating and maintaining the newly acquired defence equipment. Limited information regarding the racial and gender representivity in relation to defence capabilities and skills were made available during oversight visits and such reluctance is a cause for concern.

  1. The report details the numerous challenges within the SAAF which require prompt intervention and also highlights some of the frustrations expressed by soldiers regarding living and working conditions. We commend the SAAF members for their dedication in spite of daily difficulties experienced and appeal that the necessary interventions be made to ensure that treatment of soldiers are improved and conditions on bases are made conducive for the efficient and dedicated defence and protection of all South Africans.


Located near Langebaan , AFB Langebaanweg is the SAAF’s primary flying training and support base. Three units operate within the base: Central Flying School (responsible for pilot and instructor training); 2 Air Servicing Unit (responsible for technical support of the training aircraft and the training of technical apprentices); and 526 Protection Squadron who safeguard buildings, equipment and personnel at the base. It is also a general service base (GSB) and provides services to the broader military community on the West Coast.


1.1 During its orientation briefing, the Committee was informed that the buildings at the base were in a dire state of neglect. Three messes required urgent renovation, as well as the married quarters. During a brief tour of the facilities, the Committee confirmed that certain facilities require extensive repair and renovation. Water damage as a result of the outdated plumbing systems (drains and drainpipes) and regular geyser bursts caused the roofs and floorboards to rot. Stairways were slippery and also required urgent renovation. The Committee is concerned that such deteriorating conditions pose occupational health and safety risks and negatively impact on the morale and work ethic of members of the SAAF.

1.2 Budgetary constraints and the ineffectiveness of the Department of Public Works (DPW) delay the implementation of the planned maintenance and capital works programmes, contributing to further deterioration of infrastructure. In order to adequately upgrade facilities, an estimated budget of R110 million is required. An amount of R4.5 million is needed for daily maintenance. The current funding of mainly ad-hoc repairs and maintenance through its operating budget has proven too costly, impractical and unsustainable.

1.3 While the Committee acknowledged the need for renovations, it was less than satisfied with the shabby and unclean condition of the facilities. While an explanation was provided to the Committee - the PSAP (Public Service Act Personnel) personnel could not manage the upkeep of facilities - the level of cleanliness of facilities also speaks to the level of discipline, control and pride of students and soldiers stationed at the base. This can only be remedied through decisive leadership.

1.4 It should be noted that, during interaction with students and soldiers at the base, frustrations were raised at the inadequate standard of accommodation (for students and staff), the poor conditions of bathrooms and the need for an additional mess to accommodate the members of the base. Concerns re-enforced the urgent need to improve the living conditions of soldiers.


2.1 The effective disposal of obsolete vehicles is a cause of concern. The depot used to house these vehicles was not fully secured and increased the risk of theft. Long delays and backlogs in the auction procedures of vehicles are also a cause for concern. The Committee was also informed that the registration of vehicles on the eNaTis system (electronic national administration traffic information system) is too costly, at approximately R500 per vehicle. Revenue generated from the auction of vehicles had to be relinquished to National Treasury, and was thus lost to the base as an additional revenue source.

2.2 There is a shortage of appropriate vehicles, particularly duty busses. The lack of appropriate transport facilities, given the remoteness of base, was also raised by students during interaction with the Committee.

2.3 During the Committee’s tour of hangars used to service aircraft, the Committee was briefed on the impact of the cancellation of Aero Manpower Group’s (AMG) contract on the base’s servicing capability. It was confirmed that currently, the AMG contracted personnel assisted with providing the technical skills necessary to service and maintain aircraft. Given the scarcity of some of these skills and especially the attraction that the commercial and/or private sector hold for these members, their exit may weaken the repair and maintenance capability. While existing personnel could perform minor repairs and maintenance, the specialist maintenance at times required for some aircraft, would be difficult. Currently, AFB Langebaanweg has only two technicians, who can perform structural repairs to aircraft. One technician is an AMG contracted member with 12 years experience and the other a SAAF member with 3 months experience. The cancellation of the AMG contract and the consequent loss of the more experienced technician would thus impact significantly on the base’s structural repair capability. As a contingency plan for the possible cancellation for the AMG contract, the base management reported that two engineers from Ysterplaat AFB would assist in retaining some capability, but that development and transfer of these skills require time and results would therefore not be immediately apparent.


3.1 The Committee could not, with the information supplied, develop an understanding of whether transformation standards are effectively applied. Statistics provided to the Committee was limited to the race and gender composition of each unit, while the rank profile of the base was not supplied.

3.2 The development and retention of personnel with scarce skills is a cause for concern. During interaction with soldiers, concern was also raised over the availability of educational opportunities, the lack of career management, mentorship opportunities and at times unfair application of promotions policies. Pilots stressed that the significant reduction of flying hours is demotivating and a primary reason for exiting SAAF. The Committee believes that greater scrutiny of how human resource policies are applied is needed to, not only prevent the exodus of skills, but to ensure that all available skills at the base are nurtured and retained. The implementation of empowerment policies, particularly those aimed at the employment and development of persons with disabilities and women, was also raised as a challenge. Soldiers believe that disabled persons were not utilised and regarded as useful resources in the Defence Force.

3.4 Career progression in the SANDF and the unequal application of promotion policies were also raised as challenges. Soldiers’ concerns over the possible victimisation and racism were raised as a serious concern and this requires objective investigation. Grievances lodged are not processed and the finalisation of cases is often delayed, exacerbating the risks of victimisation.


Six units are stationed at the base. 19 Squadron is a transport/utility helicopter unit that operates Atlas Oryx helicopters. 101 Squadron is a reserve unit that is primarily responsible for assistance in crime prevention operations in the Mpumalanga province. Support units at the base include 514 Squadron that provides security services to AFB Hoedspruit as well as 7 Air Support Unit responsible for logistic provisions, maintenance and support functions. The Lowveld Airspace Control Sector (LASS) is also stationed at AFB Hoedspruit and is responsible for in-flight command and control services ( Air Defence and Airspace Management) . Finally, AFB Hoedspruit also provides a training function through the Air Force Command and Control School . The base is situated within a nature reserve, approximately 14 kilometers from the town Hoedspruit in the Limpopo province.


1.1 At first glance, the base facilities seemed well maintained. However, it was soon confirmed that, while efforts are made by soldiers to do repair and maintenance work, this is not sustainable over an extended period of time. The derelict condition of facilities, exacerbated by the recent flooding in Hoedspruit area, requires intensive maintenance and renovation. In the long term, the cost of repairing and maintaining buildings would be greater should delays persist in starting the necessary renovation of key facilities.

1.2 Air conditioning and cooling units are old and should be replaced in order to control the temperature in buildings, notably where sensitive equipment, such as computers, is being held. Furthermore, given the climate of Hoedspruit , high-quality air conditioning facilities are essential and the lack thereof often results in uncomfortable working conditions. The Committee experienced such discomfort first hand during an inspection of the Operation Room at 19 Squadron. While the beaurocratic nature of procurement procedures and requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (No. 1 of 1999), contribute to unreasonable delays in replacing air conditioning units, budget constraints have forced base management to reprioritise all needs of the base. As a result more money is spent on repairing ageing equipment, than the cost of replacing these.

1.3 The availability of sufficient water supply remains at risk. The pipelines of the water plant currently managed by the SANDF need modernisation, but cannot be done due to a dysfunctional relationship with DPW. The high demand of water from the surrounding community often results in water supply to the base and surrounding areas being cut off. This has an impact on the morale of soldiers at the base.

1.4 Accommodation, particularly the single quarters, require renovation. In the past, a lack of discipline and poor condition of recreational facilities at the base, often resulted in vandalism. However, through the efforts of the base management, this trend has been reversed. Long procurement processes result in little maintenance work being done and this is exacerbated by the aforementioned dysfunctional relationship between DOD and DPW. Messes and sport facilities too require upgrade.

1.5 Roads at the base are of a poor quality, made worse by the recent floods. While the repair and maintenance of roads are not within the responsibility of the SANDF, repairs are often done by them. A bridge, damaged by recent floods, was reconstructed by SAAF personnel with the assistance of the community. Poor road conditions decreases the lifespan of vehicles. The provincially administered roads leading to radar stations in nearby mountains are also of an extremely poor quality. The dangerous road conditions pose a risk to the lives of members having to travel to these outposts.


1.6 Hangar doors also require an upgrade which is essential for the execution of the responsibilities and functions of AFB Hoedspruit .

1.7 Fitness is a key requirement for any competent soldier. The base does not have an adequate sports field to train soldiers and the poor state of land used for physical training, increases the risk of injury. The current gym requires an overhaul as it is too small.

1.8 Security fences had also been damaged by floods and have not since been serviced or repaired. This is unsafe and increases the risk of security breaches at the base.


2.1 The base cannot meet its operational commitments with the limited roadworthy and serviceable vehicles available. Currently, only 41 percent of vehicles at base are serviceable. For the 2012/13 financial year, only four new vehicles were received.

2.2 The vehicle repair workshop is understaffed and ill-equipped to service especially operational vehicles. In presentation documents supplied to the Committee, it was stated that existing personnel were found not to be experienced or sufficiently knowledgeable of the processes and standards of servicing a vehicle. This capability is urgently required, particularly as the outsourcing of these services is not only costly but is subject to tedious administrative processes, often resulting in delays.

2.3 The cancellation of the AMG contract and the expected loss of technical skills mean that limited and inexperienced personnel would take over the responsibility of servicing aircraft. Base management indicated that, although it would still be able to function without AMG personnel, it would not be at an optimal level of efficiency. The servicing of an aircraft would take longer than before and, should more appropriately skilled personnel not be employed, would result in more frequent and extended delays. Aircraft are strategic assets that require optimum management and appropriately skilled personnel for their servicing.


3.1 The 1124 personnel at Hoedspruit AFB comprise 690 uniformed members, 384 civilian personnel and 50 AMG personnel. Eighty-nine percent of all posts are filled, but the vacancy rate and the need for appropriately skilled personnel are expected to increase once the AMG contract is terminated. Current prioritised vacancies include that of the Human Resource Manager, administrative positions (secretaries and typists), field engineers and vacancies in the technical support division.

3.2 Statistics supplied to the Committee, suggest that while all race groups are represented, upper and middle management positions are mostly occupied by white uniformed personnel, while the lower ranking positions are mostly filled by black uniformed personnel. This skewed representation is also apparent in the composition of civilian personnel – senior clerks are mostly white, while junior clerks are mostly black. The age profile of personnel was not provided and the information regarding the effective application of progression policies and mobility exit strategies were not presented and require greater scrutiny.

3.3 The nature of misconduct incidents at the base suggests that discipline and the development of a more professional culture remain work in progress. Cases include assault, damage to property, absenteeism and the use of threatening language.


AFB Makhado is the centre for the development of the SAAF’s fighter capability and the base is made up of five units.


1.1 DPW has failed to provide the necessary maintenance work and upgrade of base facilities. In order to maintain facilities at an adequate level, the priority repairs and maintenance are managed and funded from the base’s operational budget.

1.2 The much-needed upgrade of the married quarters was underway, but this is funded from the operational budget – at a cost of R10 000 per unit. Given the anticipated number of new recruits, accommodation requires extension, particularly housing for female soldiers.

1.3 Medical services and facilities are inadequate. Soldiers often have to seek the services of private medical practitioners which, given the remoteness of the base and the unavailability of reliable transport, increases soldiers’ cost of living. Specialist treatment is costly and often only available in Pretoria , which escalates the travel costs associated with medical treatment. The Committee was also informed that the base did not have a resident dentist.

1.4 Food supplies at base are limited and at times overpriced. Soldiers often have to travel long distances to the nearest town and, given the scarcity of reliable transport, contribute to an unsustainable increase in cost of living, affecting the well-being of the average soldier. SAFI stores, managed by the SANDF, fail to provide the most basic of services and products to members stationed at the base. Aside from selling limited non-perishable goods, the store mostly sells liquor. This, as pointed out by the base management and chaplain, contributes to social problems at base, often associated with the abuse of alcohol.

1.5 Since the power station at base is dysfunctional and has not been repaired, the base relies on generators for its daily electricity supply. The operation of these generators reportedly cost R50 000 per day. This is funded from an already slim operational budget and is not cost effective since replacing the power station would be less expensive than the use of these generators. The replacement of power station is a responsibility of DPW.

1.6 Given the limited capacity of the above-mentioned generators, the frequent power cuts also prove disruptive to the daily operations, and threaten the safety of water supply provided by 14 boreholes at the base. The high levels of lime found in the water means that the water supplies are contaminated and poses a threat to the health of soldiers.


2.1 The Committee was informed that only 39 per cent of vehicles are serviceable, while obsolete vehicles are not disposed of. Duty busses for the safe transport of soldiers are urgently required.

2.2 While aircraft had been successfully integrated, the Committee noted that, given the lack of technicians, pilots, instructors and funding, these aircraft would be difficult to operate and maintain. It was stressed that limited flying hours meant that aircraft were not optimally utilised, thus also contributing to their limited lifespan. As in the case of AFB Hoedspruit , the base would be able to operate without AMG personnel, although the efficient servicing of aircraft would be affected.


3.1 During discussions with the Committee, many soldiers expressed frustration that career progression and promotion policies were not fairly applied. A need for improved access to further educational opportunities and financial assistance for those soldiers who wished to further their studies, was also expressed. Currently such opportunities are limited due to the remote location of the base and the distance from Further Education and Training (FET) institutions.

3.2 The base struggles to retain experienced and highly trained personnel, particularly pilots, instructors and technicians. Limited funding resulted in a reduction in flying hours and consequently, SAAF trained pilots leave the air force for more lucrative commercial employment. This affects the operational capability of the SAAF.


Air Force Base Durban hosts two units, namely 15 Squadron (helicopter transport unit) and 508 Squadron (protection squadron). The primary concern raised by base management was that, for the last eight (8) years, the base was to be relocated to King Shaka International Airport . The resultant uncertainty led to the cancellation of major capital projects and the impediment of the renovation and repair of facilities. At the time of writing the report, the Committee was yet to receive a copy of the letter confirming the relocation of the base, as requested.


1.1 Facilities at the base are in a state of neglect and DPW had cancelled repair and maintenance work at base amid an unconfirmed decision that the AFB Durban would be relocated. As a result, urgent repair and maintenance are done by soldiers, and this practice, given the poor state of neglect, is not sustainable over an extended period of time. The degrading conditions of buildings impact on the morale and professionalism of soldiers who are performing core functions under poor and stressful conditions.

1.2 Accommodation facilities require urgent renovation (broken doors, peeling paint and inadequate bathroom facilities) and should be extended, as dormitories are currently overcrowded – six soldiers, rather than the requisite four are allocated per dormitory room. Theft of furniture (including curtains) adds to the overall state of neglect of these facilities.

1.3 Given the shortage of personnel, gardens are unkempt. Gardening services, the Committee was informed, would be provided by an external service provider, which according to the base management could be more costly than employing personnel to perform such tasks.

1.4 Sports facilities are woefully inadequate and the sports field and squash courts require immediate repair and maintenance. Moreover, the road leading to sports and recreational facilities are riddled with potholes and had not been repaired in the past three years. Funds, the Committee was informed, had recently been allocated for the road’s urgent repair.

1.6 The sickbay, although comprising one doctor, a psychologist, a social worker, a pharmacist and 5 nurses, do not have an ambulance. This means that, should an emergency occur which require an ambulance, fatalities is probable, given the distance between the base and the nearest hospital. The lack of appropriate medical transport to other medical services is costly to soldiers as the use of alternative transport cost a soldier at least R300. It was recommended that a car and ambulance, provided for the sickbay in previous years, should be re-instated.

1.7 Major maintenance work is required to the administrative area (peeling paint,

sagging roof and floors), old hubs in the Communication and Signal Centre

need to be replaced and aircraft hangars should be repaired to prevent leaking.

1.8 A sink building on the base was condemned two years earlier, but the unit still awaits authority for its demolition. It is now being used as a storage facility, which given the status of the building, is an unsafe and irresponsible practice.

1.9 With the move of Durban International Airport to the new King Shaka International Airport , a facility to accommodate fixed wing aircraft (used for maritime surveillance) is needed. Currently these aircraft are stored at King Shaka International Airport , which is 60 km away from AFB, giving rise to a range of command and control challenges.


2.1 The disposal of the large number of unserviceable vehicles is a major obstacle. The six year time-frame to dispose of these vehicles was mainly attributed to a tedious and lengthy administrative process. Vehicles could not be auctioned as required, and while the base followed procedures, constant changes to these procedures often resulted in delays. These vehicles have to be disposed of as soon as possible, given the security risk associated with possible theft of parts and possibilities of fire.

2.2 There were 5 AMG members at the base, two of whom were clerks, a technical training officer, a sheet metal workers and a heli -tuner. The Committee was informed that the cancellation of the AMG contract (and without the 3 technical AMG personnel) made the maintenance and repair of aircraft difficult.


3.1 The base management indicated that it had a functional disciplinary process. A breakdown of the disciplinary matters indicated 3 dismissals (for Absent without Permission-AWOP), 1 suspension due to rape and 20 DD1’s (a charge sheet) with a 80% conviction rate. The base further dealt with 3 grievances. Most grievances lodged dealt with staffing and promotions, as was raised by soldiers during the delegation’s meeting with personnel on the base.

3.2 Seventy seven percent of the critical posts have been staffed but owing to the lack of suitable housing (only 55 families are accommodated at the base), resignations are common. The difficulty in securing accommodation near the base, further contributes to regular resignations or transfers.

3.3 Soldiers also raised the challenges posed by administrative delays in the processing of Subsistence and Travel (S&T) allowances, particularly after external deployments. Amounts were deducted from their monthly salaries related to the external deployment, often more than the amounts that were paid out to them. In addition, these queries took long to resolve as the relevant section at Defence Head Quarters was not properly staffed.

3.4 Career- pathing is a major source of discontent which can mainly be attributed to ineffective communication between the Defence Head Quarters and the base. The moratorium placed on placements and promotions meant that critical vacancies could not be filled. While a proper career management plan is required, the base does not have input into the appointment of personnel by the Defence Head Quarters resulting in unhappiness as suitable candidates are often available on the base.


The Committee was met by the Acting Base Officer Commanding and other officers in acting positions, since the management of the base was attending the annual SAAF Day in Pretoria . The Delegation expressed its dissatisfaction with this arrangement as it would have re-scheduled the oversight visit had it known of this event.


1.1 Projects which form part of the five-year maintenance plan, in partnership with DPW, are not effectively implemented. Facilities are thus left to deteriorate and delays in maintenance have a negative impact on flying operations, due to occupational health and safety risks.

1.2 The ageing water reticulation systems require replacement – currently leaking pipes often lead to sewage problems and bursting pipes.

1.3 Although dependent on available funding, the Committee noted that attempts have been made to improve the living conditions of soldiers. While accommodation for single soldiers is sufficient, housing for married couples is inadequate. The newly renovated bathroom facilities had been vandalised, which to the Committee, highlighted the level of discipline amongst soldiers.

1.4 The outdated air conditioning system requires urgent attention and replacement. Two classrooms are without air conditioners which have a negative impact on learning and training at the base.


2.1 The filling of vacancies remains one of the core challenges to the effective operation of the base. Twenty eight positions need to be filled and these are: 3 management positions (Budget Manager, Corporate Communications Manager and a counter-intelligence post); 8 vacancies in the technical division; 3 posts in the Verification Unit, 9 posts in the transport sections, 1 warrant officer post (Mess Purchasing Clerk), 1 Sergeant post (Mess purchasing Clerk) and 3 PSAP posts in the Laundry section.

2.2 During the Committee’s meeting with soldiers many expressed a desire for proper career- pathing and that educational and training opportunities should be made available for promotion and advancement in the SAAF. Concern was also expressed that post structures require review in order to ensure that any position created and filled are suited to fulfill the mandate and functions of the SAAF.

2.3 Improved communication is required regarding the salary structure of personnel – many soldiers expressed concern that while salaries are earned every month, clarity regarding the various deductions and reasons for these are not made clear, in spite of numerous requests for more information. This is a source of frustration. Salaries do not include danger allowances and travel allowances have decreased by 50 percent since 2011. Similar concerns regarding S&T as found at AFB Durban were raised.


3.1 The Base is responsible for the training of helicopter pilots and flight

engineers of the Atlas Oryx, A109 and Rooivalk attack helicopters. The enrolment is fairly low at 7 pupil pilots on the A109’s and 4 on the Oryx helicopter. Recruitment is enhanced through the Siyandisa and Young Falcons programmes. Given the reduction of flying hours, recently qualified pilots do not fly enough, and are not nearly sufficient to enhance experience – flying hours have been reduced from 250 hours per annum to 100 hours. Given this state of affairs, pilots tend to resign from the Air Force since little incentive is provided to remain in service.

3.2 There are eight AMG personnel at the base, 3 working at 16 Squadron and 5 others at other units in the base. Some have experience of more than 20 years and can perform more complex maintenance and repair work. Although young qualified personnel are available, they lack the necessary experience which can only be acquired over time and under the supervision of experienced staff.

3.3 One hangar built two years ago had been fitted with faulty “new generation” lighting. This state of affairs increases safety risks, and cannot be repaired by staff, given the associated legal liability A second hangar suffered structural problems which led to the one door collapsing adding to the safety risk of staff and equipment. Several attempts at resolving these problems proved to be unsuccessful but assurances were given that DPW would make the necessary repairs “in the near future”.

3.4 Delays in the delivery of spares needed to repair aircraft were also raised as a cause of concern. In one instance, the base had to wait 12 months for spares to be delivered.


1.1 The Committee visited selected Armscor facilities to understand the research activities conducted there. These are critically needed to ensure that the SANDF maintains its strategic capabilities, and that these remain at an internationally competitive level.

1.2 During the orientation briefing the Committee was informed that while it was confident that, as envisaged, Armscor could meet its defence technology, research and development; as well as test and evaluation requirements of the Department of Defence in an efficient, effective and economical manner, key challenges remain. In order to meet its mandate and deliver services required by the State, sufficient funding and appropriately skilled personnel are needed. Improved methods to guard the intellectual property of domestically developed products and systems, through amongst others, providing strategic guidance to Denel and the local defence industry as well as indentifying strategic research and development activities, are also required. In this way, South Africa ’s strategic capabilities are not only maintained but safeguarded, and the domestic defence industry, becomes commercially competitive, through, in particular, the exploitation of dual-use technologies.

1.3 The delegation visited the Ergotech Labratory and was provided with an overview of research in the fields of biomechanics, cognitive ergonomics, anthropometry, shoe design, and hearing protection. Work in these disciplines is focused on design and specification of human-machine systems, as well as test and evaluation of environmental “stressors”, human physiology, and specific health and safety concerns.

1.4 On previous occasions, concerns have been expressed regarding the ability to retain and attract appropriately skilled personnel necessary for Armscor to provide services in accordance with its mandate. During the oversight visit, it was evident that, while certain challenges regarding the skills require ongoing monitoring, the quality and professionalism of researchers who briefed the Committee, indicate that measures aimed at developing skills and transforming the existing personnel profile, are bearing fruit.

1.5 At the time of writing this report, the Committee had not received formal notification that the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had been finalised. Slow progress in the filling of such a critical vacancy means that, contrary to good governance principles, this strategic entity continues to function without stable leadership.

1.6 The Committee expressed its dissatisfaction at the level of security at Armscor facilities and was informed that such services were provided by a private security agency. The Delegation agreed that, given the strategic nature of the Armscor ’ work, security arrangements required review and should be on par with security arrangements provided to buildings and facilities classified as National Key Points (NKP).


The Committee requests that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (the Minister) ensures that the following recommendations are considered and due consideration be given to their implementation. The Minister should further ensure that responses on recommendations’ feasibility and/or implementation are submitted to Parliament, within one month of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly (NA):

1. Facilities:

1.1 The Committee is shocked at the state of facilities of SAAF bases visited and is concerned about the relationship between the DOD and DPW. Greater clarity is needed regarding the nature of, and challenges to, the implementation of a service level agreement ( SLA ) between these departments, given the complaints regarding poor facilities. It must be emphasised that regardless of these challenges the responsibility to ensure that facilities are adequate and that resources are adequately utilised remain the responsibility of the DOD. The Committee recommends ministerial intervention to ensure that facilities are upgraded to an acceptable level. It is further recommended that the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the DOD and DPW is reviewed and its implementation is ensured, in accordance with the priorities identified by each base.

2. Transformation

2.1 The Committee questions the pace of and commitment to the transformation of the SAAF into an appropriately skilled, gender and demographically represented defence force, especially as it relates to the ability to operate and maintain newly acquired defence equipment. In this regard, vital statistics regarding the racial and gender representivity in relation to defence capabilities and skills were not made available in order to evaluate the progress made with transforming the SAAF. The Committee recommends that within one month of this report’s adoption by the NA, the Minister, submits to Parliament, a detailed status report on the SAAF’s transformation and the associated challenges.

3. Skills retention

3.1 The Committee notes that the competition for scarce skills impact negatively on the operations of the South African Air Force (SAAF). However, in order to prevent the loss of particularly pilots, technicians and instructors, employment contracts of those individuals with specialised skills, should be reviewed to allow for a binding period of service after completion of training. It should also be noted that the drastic reduction of pilots’ flying hours contribute to the loss of skills, and this too require urgent reporting by the Department. In addition, other retention strategies such as occupation-specific allowances should either be increased or considered where they are absent.

3.2 During the oversight visit, the Committee took note of concerns regarding the effect of the termination of AMG contract on the ability of the SAAF to service and maintain aircraft. We are of the opinion that skills development, particularly the required specialised skills, remains the responsibility of the DOD. A comprehensive report, detailing the different areas and skills development initiatives to address specific concerns should be submitted to Parliament within one month of the adoption of this report by the NA.

3.3 Furthermore, Parliament should be provided with a report that clarifies whether existing career and promotions policies are in place, and whether these were effectively implemented and explained to members of the SAAF. Soldiers’ perception was that this was not in place and that nepotism and favoritism were rife in the ranks, breeding dissatisfaction and frustration and impacting on the professionalism and discipline of soldiers.

4. Grievance system

4.1 Parliament should be provided with a detailed assessment of the management of grievances. Soldiers expressed their dissatisfaction at the perceived ineffectiveness of the grievance system and the Committee believes that the failure to acknowledge and attend to grievances could compromise the commitment and professionalism of SAAF members. A report should be submitted to Parliament within one month of the adoption of the Committee’s report by the NA.

5 Armscor

5. 1 To date, the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has not been confirmed. The Committee urges that this appointment is prioritised.

5..2 Security arrangements at Armscor should be on par with that provided for buildings and facilities classified as National Key Point (NKP). The Committee recommends an urgent review of Armscor’s current security arrangements.

5.3 We re-iterate that a sophisticated local defence industry is crucial for the SANDF to maintain the necessary state of readiness in the most cost effective manner. In this regard, the Department should resolve the following issues as a matter of urgency:

(a) Whether Denel and Armscor sufficiently support the SANDF in maintaining its capabilities; and that

(b) The review of defence policy (and the policy framework for the restructuring of the South African defence related industry) is clarified and finalised.

Report to be considered.


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