ATC201203: Report of the Lekgotla of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence with the Department of Defence and the South African National Defence Force on 16 and 17 October 2020, Dated 19 November 2020




1.         Introduction


The Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) arranged a Lekgotla with the Department of Defence (DOD) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on 16 and 17 October 2020 at the Logistic Support Formation HQ, TEK Base, Thaba Tshwane. This formed part of the execution of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities over the Department of Defence.


  1. Primary aim of the Lekgotla


The primary aim of the Lekgotla was to initiate a discussion that will result in the development of an implementable, reviewable action plan to bring about a defence force structure that is sustainable, commensurate to the threat perception and fiscally appropriate.


1.2        Committee Members and Support Staff


The Delegation comprised of the following:


Members of the Committee:


Mr ME Nchabeleng (Co-chairperson – NCOP)

Mr VC Xaba (Co-chairperson – NA)

Mr. TN Mmutle

Ms AJ Beukes

Mr JJ Maake

Ms TI Legwase

Ms M Modise

Ms M Bartlett

Mr SJF Marais

Mr ML Shelembe

Mr DR Ryder

Gen (ret) B Holomisa

Mr TWI Mafanya

Mr K Motsamai


Support Staff

Peter Daniels                                        -           Content Advisor: PCODMV

Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg                 -           Researcher: JSCD

Bryan Mantyi                                         -           Committee Secretary: PCODMV

Peter-Paul Mbele                                   -           Stand-in Committee Secretary

Gunter Mankay                          -          Committee Assistant


Department of Defence representatives


Ms NN Mapisa-Nqakula MP                  Minister Department of Defence and Military Veterans

Mr TS Makwetla, MP                             Deputy Minister: Department of Defence and Military Veterans;

Ambassador S Kudjoe                         Secretary for Defence;

Gen S Shoke                                       Chief SANDF

Lt Gen L Yam                                       Chief of Staff SANDF                                                          

Lt. Gen R Maphwanya                           Chief Joint Operations

Lt Gen JM Nymebe                               Chief Defence Intelligence

Lt Gen LK Mbatha                                Chief Army

V-Adm M Hlongwane                            Chief SA Navy

V-Adm A Kubu                                     Chief HR

Maj Gen FM Ramantswana                    CMPSP

Maj Gen Buthelezi                                  Deputy Chief SAAF

Maj Gen NP Mahapa                             Representative: SAMHS

Maj General P Kobbie                GOC Logistic Support Formation

Brig Gen Les Gardiner               Director Strategic Planning General

Brig Gen G Thulare                                Director Planning

Brig Gen SM Maloma                GOC     Special Forces

Brig Gen S Gina                                    PSO to C SANDF

Brig Gen (Rev) M.A. Jamangile Chaplain General

Brig Gen VJS Radebe                           D Int Strategy

CMWO V Kgaladi                                  Warrant Officer SANDF


1.3        Programme


The Delegation was welcomed by the Minister after which she handed over to the Co-chairperson, Mr Xaba to chair the proceedings. After adjusting the seating arrangements to indicate that the JSCD is hosting the Lekgotla, Mr Xaba welcomed all present and outlined the purpose of the Lekgotla as well as the expected outcomes. The DOD was invited to make the requested presentations, after which the Committee Members engaged the content thereof. The following day, Members deliberated further on the various presentations and expressed their views on it.


2.         Opening remarks by the Co-Chairperson (NA) Mr VC Xaba


Mr Xaba thanked all involved who arranged the Lekgotla and stated that the JSCD was looking forward to this event since the start of the year. The Lekgotla was arranged to discuss in the main one item, namely the different segments of the Force Design and the Force Structure and the accompanying force levels.  Given that the Compensation of Employees is expected to increase to around 62% over the MTEF period, and that the over-expenditure on this item has been declared as Irregular Expenditure for the last two years by National Treasury, the idea was to discuss this issue with the military leadership. He explained the various documents to help guide the discussion especially the Resource Pack on the Human issues identified by the two Defence Committees since the advent of the 6th Administration, as well as the Research document highlighting the Key Discussion Points.  He further took the Lekgotla through the major highlights and discussed the role of the JSCD, the Force Design and Force Structure by referring to:


  1. The Interim Constitution of 1993, especially Sections 226 to 228
  2. The White Paper on Defence 1996 – Defence in a Democracy
  3. The Defence Review of 1998
  4. The Defence Review of 2015.


He further stated that he painted this picture so that all are reminded of the historical events and the responsibilities that were assigned to the Chief of the SANDF by virtue of the relevant laws and the Constitution. He stressed this was not the usual meeting and that the JSCD does not plan to make resolutions, but wants to understand where we are and where we are going. He also said that there should be at least two such occasions per year where these and related issues can be discussed.


3.         Opening remarks by the Minister


The Minister indicated that when she first heard that the JSCD wanted a Lekgotla, she was worried whether the allocated time was sufficient but after the explanation by the Co-chairperson she understood the purpose of the Lekgotla. She explained that at the last meeting when the Chief SANDF was required, he was indisposed. She stressed that the background was important and that the Defence Force does not want to undermine the decisions that were taken at start democracy, nor do they want to undermine the authority and mandate of the Oversight Committees. She explained the historical developments regarding the reluctance of the Chief appearing before the Defence Committees but stated that things have changed and that new norms have been set. She then requested the Co-chairperson to allow the SANDF to make the requested presentations.


After a discussion where Members raised their opinions regarding the precedent that has been created which led to the “reluctance” of the Chief SANDF to appear before the Defence Committees, the Co-Chairperson requested the Chief SANDF to proceed with the presentations.


4.         Opening remarks by the Chief SANDF


The Chief SANDF, General Shoke, introduced himself and members of the Military Command which included the Chiefs of the Arms of Services and other senior appointments. He then stressed that there was no way that he was disrespecting Parliament, as it was not in nature nor in line with his values. He was looking forward to the meeting to lay bare to Members what the country needs and that all is not well in the SANDF. He then requested Maj Gen Ramantswana to do the first presentation.


5.         Presentation on Ministerial and Chief SANDF MTEF Priorities

Maj Gen Ramantswana presented the Ministerial and Chief SANDF MTEF Priorities. He started with Part 1, Defence Mandate and National Security and stressed that the crux of the mandate is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law governing the use of force. The next section dealt with the RSA Defence Policy Development and here reference was made to the White Paper on Defence, the 1998 Defence Review, the White Paper on Peace Missions, the White Paper on the Defence Related Industry, and the 2015 Defence Review. The latter pointed out the Broad Strategic Policy Options and that Cabinet has decided on Option 2, namely to “Expand independently.” This option has four main considerations namely:

  1. Retain sovereign independence
  2. Defence capability commensurate with continental expectations
  3. Significant ability to reach and intervene over time
  4. Continental gravitas and vital interests secured.


Part 2: Strategic Environment was presented by Brig Gen Les Gardiner, and given its security classification, the contents thereof is omitted from this Report. The Minister made a few remarks on the presentation and handed over to the Co-chairperson, who thanked the various presenters and announced lunch.


6.         Presentation on Force Structure, Force Design and related matters


Mr Nchabeleng, the Co-chairperson (NCOP) chaired the afternoon session and re-affirmed the JSCD’s mandate in terms of Section 228 of the Interim Constitution. He referred especially to the budgeting and functioning of the SANDF, and that the JSCD is empowered to investigate and make recommendations in this regard. He stressed that the discussion around the Force Design and Force Structure is because the JSCD would like to assist the Department to address these and related issues.

Maj Gen Ramantswana proceeded to present Part 3: Force Design and Force Structure. He explained that the Drivers for FD and FS are:


  1. Constitutional, Policy and Legislative provisions
  2. Strategic Environmental (Threats)
  3. Doctrine, 4IR and International Ml Trends


The Considerations included the following:

  1. Deterring aggression
  2. Acting proactively, in partnership or autonomously
  3. Shaping the Information Sphere
  4. Conducting operations
  5. Bringing any conflict to an early end
  6. Supporting post-conflict reconstruction
  7. Assistance to other government departments.


He then explained the concepts further as well as referring to the “AS IS” design, the Defence Organisation and the Organogram of the SANDF. Other issues covered included the SANDF Force Design regarding the Regular and the Reserve Forces. One of the main issues presented related to the Defence Budget Realities which included the historical defence budget cuts, and the budget allocation over the MTEF. Further issues raised included Rejuvenation, which the SANDF insisted involves more than just rejuvenating the Human Resources aspect. They felt that Rejuvenation should cover the whole gamut namely POSTEDFIT:


  1. Personnel – The required characteristics of the human resources
  2. Organisation – Related command and control characteristics of the SANDF
  3. Sustainment – The required characteristics of the logistics, personnel and financial support
  4. Training –The required training to prepare human resources
  5. Equipment – The type, quantity, and the required characteristics of defence equipment
  6. Doctrine – The required characteristics of the doctrine, aids, operating procedures, etc
  7. Facilities – The required characteristics of the military facilities
  8. Information – The required characteristics of defence intelligence, information and data
  9. Technology – the required characteristics of commercial and/or military technologies.


The rest of the presentation related to the POSTEDFIT issues and reference was also made to the Special Defence Account (SDA), the Defence Industry and its role and in particular that of Denel.




7.         Presentation on MOD&MV Priorities and CSANDF Focus Areas


Brig Gen G Thulare was requested to proceed with this presentation which covered issues such as an Overview of national and departmental imperatives; Ministerial priorities; Secretary for Defence’s Focus areas; CSANDF Focus areas and Progress on Ministerial priorities. These issues are captured in both the DOD’s Strategic Plan 2020- 2025 and the Annual Performance Plan 2020. One of the priorities related to the DOD’s attempts to generate its own revenue to supplement its insufficient fiscal allocation and here reference was made to inter alia a proposal to build and renovate certain properties or convert them to Military Hotels and residential areas. A related issue was to maximize its interventions to improve the re-imbursements from the United Nations through prioritising maintenance, repair and overhaul of Prime Mission Equipment (PME), vehicles and aircraft utilised in the Mission Areas.


One critical issue raised in the context of the purpose of the Lekgotla, was that the FD and FS has been approved by the Military Command Council. A high-level document is being developed to be presented to the Cabinet for approval. The new FD/FS proposes for instance a closure and amalgamation of certain functions i.e. SAMHS to be disbanded as a Service, and other possible structural considerations.


8.         Remarks by Deputy Minister and Minister


The Deputy Minister was invited to make a few remarks and indicated his understanding of a Lekgotla, and the role of Parliament given the Separation of Powers doctrine. Members engaged him on his views and it was agreed that each arm has its own responsibilities which should be respected. The Minister interpreted the Deputy Minister’s views as representing the frustrations of the generals and indicated that the Secretary for Defence has some proposals on how the SANDF can become more self-sustainable.

It was agreed that a new Defence Review is too expensive and would take too long and thus an alternative mechanism should be sought on how to address some of the challenges in the DOD.





9.         Summary by Chief SANDF


The Chief reiterated his plea to Members of the Defence Committees to assist with addressing especially the funding challenges of the SANDF. He felt that Cabinet should be engaged by the policymakers on this and related issues. He stressed the importance of the Special Defence Account (SDA) and gave the context in which he believes it should be viewed and especially the importance and need to retain it if the military is to survive.  He also alluded to the various efforts to retain scarce skills in the SANDF as well as referring to the suspensions without pay, which he partly attributed to the delays in the court processes. The Military Discipline Bill which has been withdrawn from Parliament at the start of the year, was viewed as urgent to assist with addressing various disciplinary-related issues in the DOD. He requested Members to expedite its processing once it is submitted to Parliament. He indicated that he believes that the SANDF should be further allowed to generate its own revenue and that there were proposals in this regard, as well as the fact that this is being done successfully in other countries

10.        Concluding remarks by the Minister

The Minister referred to various issues and indicated that regarding regional issues, especially the challenges in Mozambique, that a decision ought to be taken on what action needs to be taken, since the country has interests, especially in the northern parts of that country. On the Beitbridge issue, she informed the Lekgotla that the Department was not involved in the fence that was erected. The Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the eastern part of the DRC is under discussion and given that SA forms a significant part of the FIB, she will share with the Defence Committees developments in this regard.

She stressed that the budget-related challenges of the Department present risks to the execution of the DOD plans and noted that the historical budgetary cuts since the mid-90s have affected the strength of the forces. She shared the concerns of the CSANDF of the harsh knock-on effect of the challenges at Denel on the SANDF and expressed the view that multi-pronged solutions should be sought across government by a number of stakeholders, to address these challenges.

11.        Observations by JSCD Members on 16 October 2020


  1. The Committee raised their concerns around the budget cuts and noted the reasons given for it, and especially that various attempts have been made by the Minister and the Chief SANDF to engage National Treasury, without any success. The Committee also took note of the DOD’s engagements with the Commander in Chief regarding their challenges.
  2. The Committee noted the deliberations to find sustainable solutions to the challenges of the SANDF and suggested that the Department goes back to prepare a response to the documents tabled by the Committee, with a particular focus on the possible outcomes proposed for the Lekgotla.
  3. It was observed that little mention was made of the role of corruption in the DOD itself and how this can impede the effective implementation of the Department’s and SANDF’s goals and objectives.
  4. It was stressed that the Department should pay more attention to Gender equality in the senior leadership of the Defence Force and that the Committee expects progress to be made in this regard.
  5. One of the key observations related to the fact that there is a dire need for the Budget to be prioritised in such a manner that it can ensure that the SANDF stands ever-ready to defend the country against the threats as outlined in the presentations and other analyses. It was suggested that a coordinated presentation by the different stakeholders in the Security Cluster should be presented to the President and Cabinet in order to emphasise on the decision makers that there is a dire need for political support from the highest echelons to address the security issues in the country, especially as it relates to challenges facing the SANDF.
  6. While expressing frustration at the budgetary constraints and reflecting on the mandate of the SANDF to be able to protect against security threats, Members also focused on the need for a sustainable SANDF. Members therefore urged further discussions on exactly what capacities the SANDF require, what can be cut and at what cost.
  7. In addition to concerns around the budget, Members also expressed the need for the DOD to look internally to see what steps it can take to save money and improve its financial position. The DOD was encouraged to remain frugal with its spending.
  8. The Committee agreed with the assertions by the Minster and the Chief SANDF regarding the state of Denel and its impact on the SANDF and the broader defence industry. They stated that this issue should also be escalated to the highest level.
  9. The Committee agreed that a position must be taken that there is a need to salvage the Special Defence Account (SDA), given its centrality to acquire Prime Mission Equipment as the majority of the current PME is outdated and has become obsolete.
  10. In order to assist with the rejuvenation of the SANDF, consideration should be given on crafting new and focused recruitment strategies for the SANDF and that new networks can possibly be established and relations can be built with, for instance, municipalities, to assist in this regard.
  11. Members raised questions around progress on the new Force Structure as it was recently approved by the Military Command Council (MCC) and will soon be presented to Cabinet. The Committee requested to be kept abreast of developments in this regard and urged finalisation of the process.
  12. Members expressed concern around “mission-creep” for the SANDF and stated that a number of the security threats noted by the SANDF during its presentation were not necessarily primary defence functions. As such, this should be addressed through enhanced interdepartmental cooperation.
  13. Members agreed with the presentation that revenue generation by the DOD can assist in boosting its current limited budget. It also took note of the fact that the Secretary for Defence has proposals on how the SANDF can become more self-sustainable and once ready, these should be shared with the Committee.
  14. The Committee noted its outstanding engagement with the Chief of the SANDF’s Human Resources and agreed to follow up on this with a focus on Force Structure and aspects related to the Compensation of Employees in the Department.


12.        Observations by Members on 17 October 2020


  1. The Chairperson expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to engage with the top Leadership of the SANDF and noted that the majority of the Military Command was present. Members commended the Lekgotla as they could raise issues of concern directly with the Senior Leadership of the SANDF.
  2. The Committee expressed its concern around the apparent stalemate between the DOD and National Treasury to resolve the funding for the Compensation of Employees and providing funding for Prime Mission Equipment, especially as it relates to Projects Biro, Hotel and Hoefyster. 
  3. Concern was expressed on the absence of consensus between the DOD and National Treasury on the Rejuvenation Plan and its funding. The Committee highlighted that this has implications for the SANDF’s succession planning, its ability to attract, retain and mentor the youth, and to rejuvenate the Defence Force.
  4. The Committee noted that, in the context of concerns around Human Resources matters, the issue of Compensation of Employees and related irregular expenditure in this regard should be resolved as a matter of urgency.
  5. Concern was expressed that the DOD has not seriously engaged with proposals to address its challenges such as the resuscitation of the Member Exit Mechanism (MEM), the increased utilisation of MSDS members, rank inflation and as well as the problem with supernumeraries.
  6. The Committee noted the need for improved succession planning in the SANDF.
  7. The Committee suggested that it needs to refocus its efforts to assist in resolving the funding challenges of the DOD. Various options were discussed which included a Cabinet Memorandum by the Minister, a meeting with the Commander in Chief, as well as engaging the Parliamentary Budget Office in this regard.
  8. The sentiment was that the SANDF feels that their concerns are not really being accommodated, especially where they differ with National Treasury on how to manage the allocated funds. Given that this has been coming on for some time, the impression was gained that the top leadership is exasperated with the political leadership, as they felt that issues are not being viewed from their perspective.
  9. It was emphasised that going forward, the Committee should take note of the listed threat analysis as presented by the DOD, when discussing the way forward for the Defence Force, specifically in terms of the Force’s armament needs
  10. The Committee felt that whenever possible, it should participate and/or contribute to efforts to rescue Denel, as its demise would impact massively on the SANDF.
  11. The Committee undertook to investigate the issues around the Special Defence Account (SDA) with a view to ensure its continuation given its central role to acquire Prime Mission Equipment. This against the background that the majority of SANDF’S military hardware is nearing obsolescence.


13.        Recommendations by JSCD Members


  1. The Committee resolved that given the challenges such as block (bulk)obsolescence andunder-equipping shared by the DOD with the JSCD, that an investigation into the Prime Mission Equipment and related munition in the SANDF should be launched by the JSCD and that the subsequent Report can serve as justification to engage the Commander-in-Chief.
  2. The Committee recommended that the issue of the SDA should be taken up with National Treasury given its centrality to acquire Prime Mission Equipment and against the background of possible cancelation penalties which might be quite substantial. Reference was made to especially the funding Projects Biro, Hotel and to a lesser extent Project Hoefyster.
  3. It was agreed that once Cabinet has agreed with the Force Design and Force Structure, the Department should alert the JSCD in order to arrange for the Department to present the approved Force Design and Force Structure to the JSCD.
  4. It was requested that the Department should provide it with a report on the legislative impediments to the execution of its mandate.
  5. The Committee recommended that the Department should enhance its efforts to source alternative revenue. In addition to the proposals shared with the JSCD, it should consider allowing the Defence Works Formation to assist with the repair and maintenance of facilities of other government departments, at a cost. It also recommended that the Secretary for Defence should brief it on proposals to expand the SANDF’s self-sustainability plans.
  6. The Committee recommends renewed engagement between the DOD and National Treasury on the Rejuvenation Plan and its funding to ensure force sustainability and that the two departments should report back to Parliament on progress in this regard.


Report to be considered.



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