ATC140310: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on its Oversight visits to Selected South African Army Bases in the Northwest Province, and Gauteng; 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane; Selected Education and Training Facilities in the Western Cape and Northwest Province as well as the Armscor Dockyard in the Western Cape (30 July – 13 August 2013)
OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS ON ITS OVERSIGHT
VISITS TO SELECTED SOUTH AFRICAN ARMY BASES IN THE NORTHWEST PROVINCE, AND
GAUTENG; 1 MILITARY HOSPITAL IN THABA TSHWANE; SELECTED EDUCATION AND TRAINING
FACILITIES IN THE WESTERN CAPE AND NORTHWEST PROVINCE AS WELL AS THE ARMSCOR
DOCKYARD IN THE WESTERN CAPE (30 July 13 August 2013)
The Portfolio Committee on Defence and
Military Veterans undertook oversight visits to the School of Tactical
Intelligence and 1 Tactical Regiment in
Potchefstroom ( 30 July 2013); Army Support Base (ASB) Johannesburg and
Military Base (31 July 2013); 1 Military Hospital
Tshwane (1 August 2013); the South African
Army Infantry School in
(6 August 2013);
the South African Naval College in
Bay ( 7
August 2013); and the
(13 August 2013).
The report comprises observations made during
each of the visits (Parts A - D) as well as the Committees recommendations (Part
E). Challenges identified during these visits are not new to the Committee and
therefore observations and recommendation made in this report should be read
along with previous committee reports adopted by the National Assembly.
Although mindful of its mandate, the
Committee re-iterates previous concerns
the pace of and commitment to transformation of the South African National
Defence Force (SANDF).
visits the Committee sought to understand the challenges hampering the development
of a defence force that is appropriately skilled, gender, demographically
representative and capable of operating and maintaining newly acquired defence
equipment. Once again, information relating to the above was limited and such
reluctance to provide information remains a cause of concern.
The report details the numerous challenges
which require urgent intervention. In spite of the limited resources at the
disposal of facilities visited together with the consequences of a shortage of
technically skilled personnel, the Committee commends members of the Defence
Force for their dedication and professionalism
that the necessary interventions are made to ensure that living and workings
conditions of soldiers are improved and made conducive for the efficient and
dedicated defence and protection of all South Africans.
AFRICAN MILITARY BASES
Committee visited the Army Support Base Johannesburg (Lenz Military Base) and
on 31 July 2013.
During its interaction with each bases
management team, the Committee focussed on matters relating to the conditions
of facilities and the interventions necessary to improve working and living
conditions of soldiers; the extent to which each base succeeded in managing
important human resource challenges such as the application of a fair and
effective grievance resolution process, the filling of critical vacancies, as
well as the extent to which transformation policies and objectives had been
ARMY SUPPORT BASE JOHANNESBURG (LENZ
(Gauteng), the base, in support of
army activities, lends procurement and logistical support, services and
facilities, to the defence establishment both in Gauteng and nationally.
According to presentation documents submitted to the Committee, the base is
responsible for the effective and efficient administration of a centralised
procurement system, monitors the application of a reliable payment system,
tracks compliance to National Treasury guidelines and standard as well as
Defence contractual obligations, manages effective supply chain management
(SCM) system, and plays an important role in the management of defence assets.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND EQUIPMENT
The Committee is of the view that the
buildings severe state of neglect, the shortage of accommodation, together
with the delays in the demolition of derelict structures, not only impact
negatively on the image of the base, but also on soldiers morale and
The illegal occupation of
buildings by both civilians and military personnel is a cause of great concern.
Effortless accessibility and illegal occupation of defence facilities
illustrate that security breaches could occur with ease. During its interaction
with base management, the Committee was dismayed such illegal occupation of
state property could have been allowed to occur.
The roads within the base require urgent
repair, as harsh conditions impacted on the lifespan of an already aging vehicle
Forty-seven of the ninety-three
vehicles assigned to the base were unserviceable and obsolete. The base was
also in desperate need of passenger vehicles, including duty busses.
The daily upkeep and maintenance of
facilities was a challenge, owing to the shortage of cleaning personnel as well
. Although the Committee notes that this
is due to persistent difficulties in the finalisation of appointments of public
service personnel, it also indicates to a level of discipline and pride of
members within the Defence Force.
Owing to budgetary constraints, a vast
stretch of land previously used for disposal purposes, cannot be
HUMAN RESOURCE MATTERS
For the 2012/13 financial year, 31 AWOL
(absent without leave) cases had been reported, 38 cases of ill-discipline as
well as three cases of misconduct (including theft of state property and
The nature and number of cases
lodged, suggest that greater effort is needed to ensure that members conduct
themselves in a professional and disciplined manner.
Seventy-nine vacancies are reported and
these include 12 civilians, 8 officers, 26 Non-commissioned officers (NCO), and
33 troops. Vacancies are mostly in the operations and support services.
The Committee urges that such vacancies are
filled as a matter of urgency.
With the information supplied to the
Committee, it was not possible to gain an understanding of the staff profile;
to assess the extent to which transformation policies and standards had been
adhered to; and whether efforts to rejuvenate the SANDF had been effective at
DOORNKOP MILITRAY BASE
located in Gauteng, the base is tasked with the preparation and provision of
combat ready landward defence capabilities to the South African Infantry
Formation; has to manage the human resource needs of the
as well the required Prime Mission Equipment.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND EQUIPMENT
While the Committee acknowledges the
significant renovations of facilities and efforts to improve the living and
working conditions of soldiers, morale and training of soldiers are affected by
the shortage of accommodation for particularly married couples, as well as the
need for a suitable training area and shooting range.
The vehicle fleet is aged and must be
replaced. Current vehicles are inadequate and only 56 per cent are serviceable.
Delays in the acquisition and delivery of spare parts meant that vehicles are
often not serviced on a regular basis, thus decreasing their lifespan.
HUMAN RESOURCE MATTERS
21 Battalion has an ageing workforce,
mainly due to the ineffective exit mechanism strategy. This threatens the
operations of the base and, should this matter not be addressed, 21
would not be able to meet its commitments.
While the Committee acknowledges that
steady efforts made to improve the living and working conditions, the bases
successful participation in internal and external deployments, the number of
incidents and cases of ill discipline (24) is too high. Much needs to be done
to improve the behaviour of defence force members and to ensure that discipline
and morale remain at a high level.
Vacant posts and slow progress made with
the appointment of skilled personnel, poses a threat the bases ability to
effectively execute responsibilities. Information supplied in questionnaire and
presentation documents regarding vacancies and staff shortages were
inconsistent. However, of the 124 of the 1061 posts at base are vacant. Some
vacancies reported were for officers (3), non-commissioned officers (14),
troops (56), and civilians 46 in the human resources, operational management,
facilities and Logistics areas.
1 MILITARY HOSPITAL, THABA THSWANE
Military Hospital is the largest of the three military hospitals, with a reported
total bed capacity of 556. It is a tertiary medical facility and said to be the
flagship of the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS). The oversight
visit to 1 Military Hospital was aimed at investigating the progress made with
the resolution of challenges in the repair and maintenance of facilities, as
identified during a previous oversight visit to the facility in 2011.
FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
During the previous oversight visit to the medical
facility, renovations to the intensive care and emergency units were
incomplete. Budgetary constraints also meant that a
Renovations Plan could not be implemented, which resulted in delays in the
acquisition of much needed medical equipment such as x-ray machines and the
required infrastructure for x-ray rooms.
In the two years after the above visit, the
hospital is still experiencing funding constraints. This means that the
hospital cannot replace ageing medical equipment as planned which impacts on
the quality of medical care and services offered at the hospital. Moreover the
refurbishment programme too, has not yet been completed and the timeframes for
the completion could not be confirmed.
Some sections of the hospital require urgent
renovation. At the time of the Committees visit, the Casualty theatres,
intensive care units, laboratories, and x-ray machines were still incomplete.
The hospital believes that the above
challenges could be remedied, by allowing the Defence Works Formation to
take-over the repair and renovation of facilities. Poor workmanship by the
service providers contracted by the Department of Public Works (DPW) meant that
much of the work must be redone.
hand-over of all maintenance and repair from DPW to the Defence Works Formation
should to be finalised as soon as possible.
Eighty-three vehicles had been allocated to
the Unit 46 vehicles were utilised by the hospital while 37 were used by the
Presidential Medical Unit (PMU).
an ageing fleet which is 67 per cent serviceable and 17 vehicles were more than
a decade old. Seventeen vehicles had been written off and are waiting to be
HUMAN RESOURCE MATTERS
The total staff establishment is 1786,
while 459 posts were vacant and 12 were not funded. The actual number of people
on the ground is 1377. Critical staff shortages were reported particularly
health practitioners. The hospital requires doctors, specialists, pharmacists,
occupational therapists. The loss of critical skills is a cause of concern
particularly as much is invested in the training and education of personnel. Personnels
contractual obligations should be reviewed to ensure that medical facility
benefits from its investment in the training and skills development of
DEFENCE TRAINING AND EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
Committee visited the School of Tactical Intelligence and Tactical Regiment
(Potchefstroom), the SA Army Infantry School (
as well as the South African Naval Gymnasium (
Bay). Through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) the Defence Force
will be transformed and rejuvenated into an appropriately skilled, gender and
demographically represented Defence Force capable of operating and maintaining
sophisticated defence equipment in defence of South Africa. Visits to these
training institutions focussed on the relationship between recruits and
instructors, the conditions of facilities the challenges to the successful
completion of training, career guidance and the further educational
opportunities available to students.
OF TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE AND TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE REGIMENT
in Potchefstroom, the facility provides SAQA (South African Qualifications
Authority) accredited formal and combat readiness training to South African
Army intelligence corps members, other arms of services as well as
international learners. In turn, the
combat ready and supported
tactical intelligence capability to the Chief of the Army. The committee visited
facilities on 29 July 2013.
FACILITIES AND TRAINING EQUIPMENT
The unit is in desperate need of mess
facilities and accommodation for learners, the non-commissioned officers as
well as married couples.
challenges are experienced by the Regiment, and these include adequate bathroom
facilities, stores, mess and accommodation.
The need for expansion of facilities is due to the increase in MSDS
intakes as well as the establishment of a Reserve Force Regiment as well as an
An adequate building for the safe storage of
Intelligence Unique equipment is needed as the current aged building poses a safety
risk and is could not be used to
An aged sewage system poses health risks and
could further damages infrastructure. The Committee urges that this challenge
is resolved as a matter of urgency.
Training standards are compromised due
to the inadequate and aging vehicle fleet the unit requires suitable and
technologically current vehicles for training exercises. The current fleet had
proven to be too costly to maintain and difficult to repair. This challenge is
made greater by the scarcity of spare parts which resulted in the delays in the
repair and servicing of vehicle, in some instances, for up to a period of 3
years. Vehicles are often thus not serviced and often overused, which impacts
on not only the availability of safe transport, but also for vehicles used for
such purposes, training are often reduced and training standards could be compromised.
HUMAN RESOURCE MATTERS
The Committee was informed that the
current organisational structure of base required review in order for it to be
consistent with the expansion of the intelligence formation and the
establishment of a reserve force component. Current structure has proven to be
At the time of Committees visit, regiment
had 83 vacancies which included the need for 26 instructors. It was disclosed
that, given increased responsibilities assigned base, the high number of
vacancies poses made the execution of daily operations difficult. A dedicate
procurement unit is required, while the filling of vacancies, particularly
those for public service appointed personnel (PSAP), had proven to be
difficult. The base reported a shocking seven year delay in the in the
recruitment and appointment of PSAP personnel.
While the Committee notes from information
supplied, the small number of incidents of ill-discipline, the base did was
satisfied with the morale of soldiers. This was attributed to a level of job
satisfaction given the increasing involvement in (internal and external)
deployments as well as training exercises; the opportunity for further training
to improve both life and military skills, as well as greater efforts to improve
communication between the management of the base and soldiers..
SA ARMY INFANTRY SCHOOL
SA Army Infantry School, located in
conducts education, training and development to empower and qualify
as well as members of other service and
divisions in infantry related training on behalf of the infantry formation.
These include foundation training (MSDS), corps training, leadership, refresher
courses, and specialist training; combat readiness training, skills development
as well as lending general assistance to foreign armies.
FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
While buildings have generally been
well-maintained, certain facilities require urgent repair and renovation. These
are the advanced training wing, the ration store, the indoor shooting range,
and lecture rooms. Roads require upgrade, while the sewage and reticulation
systems need replacement, together with modern generators. Office space also
requires extension and renovation.
The current vehicle fleet is unsuitable
for the specific terrain and for training purposes. The 755 vehicles at the
base included those that were serviceable and those requiring urgent
replacement; and it was reported that 202 vehicles had been written off and are
earmarked for auction. Seventy-seven vehicles are due for
and such routine maintenance and repairs usually take up to two months.
The base needed three hangars for the
safekeeping and storage of disaster management equipment, furniture and
vehicles. As an interim measure, existing hangars store both different types of
equipment and clothing. Fencing around those items earmarked for disposal, such
as furniture, had been erected to ensure minimal damage and to minimise the risk
HUMAN RESOURCE MATTERS
The Committee was informed of the
challenges experienced with the MSDS recruits. We are of the view that
challenges such as pregnancies, arrival at base without the necessary
documentation emphasises the need for the incorporation of the necessary life skills
training in the MSDS training programme. Moreover, the Department and bases
should, during recruitment drives ensure that the necessary information and
requirements for recruitment into the MSDS programme, was understood and known.
While the base recorded a low level of
grievances lodged and a speedy resolution of those recorded the incidents of
suicides and fatalities was a cause of concern. The Officer Commanding assured
the Committee that that suicide at the base was not a trend; and that fatalities
occur, despite the vigorous medical fitness test underwent by all recruits.
SA NAVAL COLLEGE
on Gordons Bay, the SA Naval College offers cost effective formative training
for naval officers. The training offered is aimed at providing learners with
the desired common knowledge, skills and attitudes to prepare for further
functional, military and tertiary education and training.
FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
The College had completed major
renovations in 2012, which included the painting of external walls, removal of
asbestos roofing and guttering, upgrade of bathrooms, improving wheelchair
accessibility and securing the harbour wall. While these renovations are
commended, ageing buildings suffer serious structural damage and require urgent
repair to prevent any serious risks to safety. Moreover, should the base not
replace its aging reticulation system, buildings could be rendered inhabitable.
Although the college had sufficient
number of suitable vehicles at its disposal, only 41 per cent are serviceable.
Committee visited the
investigate whether this facility has the capacity to meet the repair and
maintenance needs of the South African Navy (SAN).
FACILITIES AND HUMAN RESOURCE
Funding constraints and a shortage of
skilled personnel meant that the Dockyard
support the South African Navys maintenance and other logistic requirements.
While to date vessels could be maintained at an operational level, should the
challenges facing the Dockyard not be addressed, the maintenance of vessels
could not be guaranteed nor sustained.
Aging workforce, the loss of critical
skills and the delays in the filling of vacancies are
challenges faced by the Dockyard.
Measures had been developed
to increase the technical capacity, including apprenticeships.
to lend sustainable support to the SA Navy, the Dockyards planned rejuvenation
efforts included development of its own maintenance capacity and less reliance
on private companies, recruitment of appropriately skilled personnel as well as
the sourcing of appropriate equipment.
Maintenance of vessels are often delayed
due to the difficulties experienced with the availability of spare parts and
equipment, which often had to be sourced from international suppliers.
Committee requests that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (the
Minister) ensures that the following recommendations are considered and due
consideration is given to their implementation. The Minister should further
ensure that responses to recommendations feasibility and/or implementation are
submitted to Parliament within reasonable time after the adoption of this
report by the National Assembly (NA).
In its previous oversight report, the
Committee expressed concern over the relationship between DPW and the
Department of Defence. We requested greater clarity regarding the nature of and
challenges to the implementation of a service level agreement (SLA) between
these departments. This remains an outstanding matter.
Notwithstanding the above, the Committee
requests both these Departments to ensure that maintenance and repair responsibilities
are transferred to the Department of Defence (DOD), in order for the Defence
Works Formation to commence with the upgrade and renovation of defence
facilities. During out interactions at various bases, training facilities and 1
Military Hospital, management teams believed that this Works Formation would
assist in ensuring that defence facilities are properly maintained at
acceptable standards. The Committee believes that the DOD must ensure that
facilities are adequately maintained and that resources are efficiently
utilised for such purposes.
buildings by both civilians
and military personnel is a cause of great concern. Effortless accessibility
and illegal occupation of defence facilities illustrate that security breaches could
occur at defence facilities with ease and that defence facilities or state
property are not well secured. The Department should, within one month of the
adoption of this report, submit to Parliament, a status report on how this
matter had been addressed, and measures put in place to ensure that such
illegal occupation does not occur again.
visited reported a shortage of accommodation facilities. The Committee proposes
that funding is prioritised to ensure that exiting accommodation is adequately
upgraded and where needed extended, to ensure adequate living conditions for
The Committee has
observed common challenges such as the conditions of roads, ageing reticulation
systems, and the need for safer and adequate storage facilities. Funding should
be prioritised to ensure that the necessary renovations are made.
Transformation and skills retention
As in the case of our oversight visits to
Air Force Bases, vital information in relation to racial and gender
representatively, especially as t relates to defence capabilities and skills
were not fully supplied to the Committee. As a result, the Committee could not
evaluate the progress made with the transformation at facilities visited. The
Committee recommends that a detailed report on challenges to the transformation
of the SANDF is submitted to Parliament within one month of the adoption of
this report by the National Assembly.
The Military Skills Development System
(MSDS) and the establishment of an effective military exit mechanism are
central to ensuring that the defence force recruits young and fit recruits,
while at the same time, allowing a planned exit or retirement of soldiers,
without the currently associated loss of skills or experience. The success of
both these strategies are crucial in ensuring that the defence force remain
appropriately skilled, young and representative,
and are able to operate and maintain defence
equipment in defence of South Africa.
Facilities visited are experiencing similar
challenges with the retention and recruitment of skilled personnel especially
health care practitioners, instructors, technicians as well as engineers. While
the competition over scarce skills cannot be underestimated, the Committee was
also informed that challenges experienced with the promotions and access to further
learning opportunities often led to the loss of scarce skilled personnel. The
Committee recommends that, the Department ensures that, through the application
of a fair promotions policy, together with improvement in the living and
working conditions of soldiers, a sense of loyalty and dedication is created amongst
SANDF members, thus minimising the exodus of experienced and skilled personnel.
Military Discipline and Professionalism
The number of absence
without leave incidents, misconduct and theft and fraud cases indicate to a
lack of discipline and professionalism, which harm the image of the SANDF as a
professional and highly disciplined organisation. The Committee believes that
such incidents could only be remedied through decisive leadership.
The Committee understands that, given
the nature of the challenges faced by the Dockyard, improvement in the
productivity and service rendered to the South African Navy, would take
should report to Parliament on a regular basis, regarding the progress made
with improving the capacity of this facility.
Report to be
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