Department Response to Setai Commission Report: briefing


09 April 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


9 April 2003

Ms T Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Briefing on Setai Report (Appendix)
Updated Response to the Final Report: Ministerial Inquiry: An Analysis of Progress with Transformation in the Defence Force

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Defence on issues arising from the Setai Report, the Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into an incident at Tempe in September 1999. Issues raised in the Setai report include integration and transformation in four sections of the armed forces, current plan and budget, readiness of SANDF, the Defence Secretariat, Human Resource Strategy 2010, reserve forces, military justice, military strategy, civic education and IT services.

The Chairperson welcomed Members from the Department of Defence to the meeting, which was to review progress made in the Defence Force since the issuing of the Setai Report in 2001. The Setai Commission had been set up by the Minister after killings at Tempe Military Base on 16 September 1999. The Chairperson said that it was now the duty of the Committee to assess the progress made so far. She expressed her disappointment that none of the commission members were present at the presentation; their presence would have helped to explain conclusions and other aspects of the report. She therefore asked the Minister to explain whether the Commission would appear before the Committee or not.

Minister's Opening Remarks

The Minister explained that the Setai Commission was appointed for a short time because of the Tempe and Phalaborwa incidents, so that an investigation and report of those incidents could be made. The inquiry had to be disbanded and the Commission did not have time to go over and over the report they submitted. The report was now the property of the Defence Ministry to deal with outstanding issues and should be viewed as a final report. The transformation process was long term and on going.

The Minister said that some of the problems raised by the Commission had been addressed. For example, the issue of administration of troops' salaries had been sorted out and so far there were no further complaints. In addition, the issue of commands' attitudes towards the troops had improved and there were no longer daily occurrences.

Military representivity, culture and attitudes had improved including racist and gender attitudes. There was therefore no need to continue approaching SANDF as if it had not changed. His review of reports and visits to bases and foreign based troops showed that things had improved. The Minister said that black and white troops had been deployed to DRC and to this day there have been no complaints. There were no incidents of stolen salaries except one incident where one special operative shot himself and an officer but this had not impacted on the performance of the troops.

Further proof that issues had been addressed was the fact that the British contingent, after finishing their duty in RSA, said that they were fulfilled and though the force was not perfect when they were leaving, they had left in place a capable command structure. He asked Members to evaluate the progress of SANDF on troop performance as well. The long term transformation process would continue to address outstanding issues. The Minister then brought to the attention of Committee Members a faulty formulation in the report, which stated that "This will have to be accepted…" [referring to racism]. The Minister said that the sentence should be changed to "This will have to be acknowledged…" He said that people came with attitudes but this was not an accepted feature in SANDF. He concluded his remarks by saying that there were no further reports to be submitted to the Committee and the Committee should raise their questions and concerns for the DOD to consider.

Briefing on Setai Report
General Nyanda sketched the background to the Setai Commission. The Commission was set up due to the killings at Tempe on 16 September 1999 and a Ministerial Committee was appointed to investigate what had led to the killings. The results of the investigation were reported in the final report of the Setai Commission dated 10 July, 2001 and presented to the Joint Committee on Defence on 12 October, 2001 together with a response from the DOD. The Report was, however, not discussed as planned due to program changes at the parliament. He said the Setai commission had investigated the circumstances leading to the Tempe Killings and assessed whether there was racial, political and other sectarian discrimination in SANDF.

General Nyanda said that issues raised in the Setai report included integration and transformation in four sections of the armed forces, current plan and budget, readiness of SANDF, the Defence Secretariat, Human Resource Strategy 2010, reserve forces, military justice, military strategy, civic education and IT services. General Nyanda said that whilst funding shortfalls were a problem, the transitional strategy 2001 had identified areas where savings could be made. He said savings in SAAF were projected at R240 million in the financial year 2004/05 and that ways were being identified of making the DOD affordable and sustainable within its budget constraints including rightsizing.

Structural transformation of the DOD had been completed and the Auditor-General had concluded that 83.6% success had been achieved. A number of personnel administration problems had also been addressed including differentiation of civilian and military posts, leave dispensation, fast tracking, language policy, customary marriages and sport and recreation. On representivity, he gave the following as the changes that have taken place from February 2001 to February 2003:

African-60.7 to 63%
Coloured-12.2% to 10.8
Asian-1.2% to 1.4%
White-25.7% to 24.6%

Changes in representivity included women, whose representation had changed marginally from 19.7% in 1994 to 20.9% in February 2003. Other major challenges that need to be addressed were middle management and technologically specialised musterings, levels of grievances and grievances mechanisms. He said the AIDS/HIV issue was receiving sustained attention. Other positive progresses highlighted by General Nyanda included shared values system, reserve forces, transformation of military training institutions, military justice and attitude changes with respect to racism.

In conclusion, General Nyanda said he hoped that the day's discussions would close the Setai Report Chapter in the history of the SANDF.

A Member, referring to the absence of the members of the Setai Commission, raised his concern that reading a report did not clarify some issues that a presentation would have emphasised and clarified.

Mr Magashule (ANC) said that the report was faded and therefore not legible.

Mr Smit (NNP) concurred with the first Member and said that the Members of the Committee should have met one morning but the Setai Committee did not seem ready and there was no presentation. He then asked the Minister to explain the progress made on the "exit framework".

In response to Mr Smit's question, the Minister said that the Chief of Services would reply to the query in detail but that steps were being taken and progress made. He then apologised for the illegibility of the main document handed out.

On the Setai Commission, the Minister said that the Setai Commission had been set up to investigate circumstances leading to the Tempe killings and the three member Setai Commission was responsible to him. He was then responsible for relaying the findings of the Commission to the Committee. He was now accountable to the Committee and not the Setai Commission. He reported the findings on what had caused the Tempe incident and after the Committee asked what was being done, he got a report from the command structures on what had been done immediately. He said that this report was not exhaustive so the day's discussion was on the complete interim report.

The Chairperson then said that the outline given by General Nyanda indicated there was a great deal of work to be done and that it would be advisable for the Members of the Committee to go and read the report so that they could engage in an intelligent debate. She suggested that the meeting be adjourned.

Adv Schmidt (DA) asked if a copy of the General's briefing would be made.

The Chairperson said copies would be made and circulated.

Mr Smit (NNP) said that while the quality of the briefing had improved, the time permitted to Members to study documents was not enough to permit intelligent debate.

The Deputy Minister said that programming for presentation was an issue . She said it was a pity that with all the Members of the SANDF that were present, the report would not be discussed. She agreed that Members should be given time to read the document before discussing it.

The Minister said he took full responsibility for the delay in the distribution of the report. He had initially taken responsibility for the report and he had not wanted to delegate it or come to the Committee meeting without full knowledge of the contents of the report. Unfortunately, duty had required him to travel to Ethiopia and so he was unable to study the report in time to approve its distribution. He apologised to the Committee Members.

In closing, the Chairperson asked Members of the Committee to read the report so as to discuss it fully later. Presentations from the Chief of the Army in the past had helped them appreciate the obstacles that DOD faced and the achievements made in various sections. She said that reading the report would enable the Members to raise their concerns and give credit where it was due. She thanked the Minister and Deputy Minster and the SANDF delegation for their attendance.

The meeting was adjourned.




1. The event which gave rise to the Setai Report was the killings at Tempe on 16 September 1999.

2. A Ministerial Committee of Inquiry was appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

3. The result was the final report which we now refer to as the Setai Report of 10 July 2001. It was presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 12 October 2001 together with the DOD response dated 28 September 2001.

4. It is a pity that the planned dates last year to discuss the Report at the parliamentary Committees did not take place, due to programme changes outside of the control of the DOD.

5. However, we are here today with as close to a "first team" of Service and Division Chiefs as possible. You should have a copy of the updated DOD Response. I will give a short, broad overview of the progress made in the DOD to implement recommendations contained in the Report. The team will then be available to answer any questions you may have.

6. I must point out that many of the issues raised in the Setai Report have been dealt with in detail during specific meetings with the Joint Standing Committee or the Portfolio Committee. These include

a. Integration and Transformation in

i. the SA Army;

ii. the SA Air Force;

iii. the SA Navy; and

iv. the SA Military Health Service.

b. The current plan and budget.

c. Readiness of the SANDF.

d. The Defence Secretariat. Human Resource Strategy 2010.

f. Command Management information/IT Services (pending).

g. The Reserve Forces

h. The Military Justice System.

i. Civic Education,

j. The Military Strategy.


7. The purpose of the Ministerial Committee was to

a. to investigate the circumstances relating to the killing of eight members of the SANDF at the Tempe Military Base on the 16 of September 1999.

    1. to ascertain whether racial, political and other sectarian discrimination or tension exists within the SANDF.
  1. With regard to the methodology, the DOD Concurs with the evaluation of the methodology given in the report. It is not without its shortcomings, particularly from a strictly legal or technical research point of view. However, by keeping the objectives in view, and by applying broad common sense and balance, the Committee has provided a constructive and credible basis for the DOD to act upon.


9. We have made extensive use of the Setai Report to identify matters that must be put right in the DOD. It has been useful to have a comprehensive view of the DOD through the eyes of Dr Setai and his fellow Committee members. The report correlates in many ways with a number of internal surveys and other self assessments in the DOD.

10. A key finding of the report, which is referred to time and again, is the enormity of the task undertaken by the DOD and SANDF since 1994 to integrate disparate forces, restructure radically, embark on a human and cultural transformation; all against a background of untimely budget cuts and other resource limitations. The impact on the leadership, middle-management and the rank and file of all this simultaneous change is very evident.


11. Under the heading "The Military in Transformation" a number of very fundamental issues regarding the task the DOD has undertaken since 1994 to integrate and transform are covered. As stated in the Report the dynamics of change and its effect on the SANDF cannot be underestimated.

12. The fact that we have succeeded, with minimum of mishaps, is a tribute to the very many people who have contributed to the planning and execution of everything, not least of all the forbearance and willingness of the rank and file to absorb the pressures and make the changes that are necessary.

13. The shortage of additional funding for transformation was and still is a major problem for us. The effect of funding shortfalls and budget cuts are visible in many of the DOD programmes.

14. We have not simply sat back and accepted the limitations imposed by a shortage of funds.

a. The Transitional Strategy of 200 1 identified a number of areas where savings could be made. In the SAAF this has translated into a projected saving of about KM 240 in FY 2004/05 in upkeep costs.

b. The Human Resource Strategy 2010 has been developed and taken through various stages of approval, including some workshops with the Committee.

c. We are currently going through the final stages of a study to identify ways and means of making the DOD affordable and sustainable within the current budget allocation. It is planned to brief the Committee on the outcome of this work on 2 September 2003.

d. We are engaged with the SAPS in plan to progressively reduce the continuous support to the SAPS over a six year period.

15. The rightsizing of the DOD has been aided by various initiatives that will allow easier redeployment of members in excess to other government departments and agencies. The development of a DOD Redeployment Agency is progressing well.

16. The issues of representivity in terms of race, gender and former force is progressing well. I will give more detail later.

17. The issues of pensionable service for former members of the non-statutory forces is well known to the members. It has recently been the subject of great activity. The outcome should be positive.


18. The structural transformation of the DOD has been completed. The Auditor-General has concluded that a 83,6% success has been achieved with the formal objectives of the structural transformation of the DOD.

19. The Plenary Defence Staff Council has decided that the original transformation project be closed and replaced by a process of continuous organisation development and improvement, supported by new strategies and supportive systems.

20. The Services have embarked on various reviews, giving rise to strategic plans to guide their further transformation and adjustment to the environment, including the shortage of funds. These include

    1. The SA Army Strategic Alignment exercise.
    2. The SAAF Vision 2010.
    3. The Navy
    4. The Navy Review.

These are all guided by the Military Strategy and other reference documents.

21. Progress with regard to the role of the Defence Secretarial was reported on recently.

22. An investigation into possible prejudice suffered by members of the former non-statutory forces during the early stages of integration has been completed. The results have been referred to an "Ad Hoc Rank Adjustment Board". This should alleviate some of the discontent that arose from the original process.

23. Considerable progress has been made with regard to the DOD's IT services. More up-to-date systems are in place. The DOD Information Strategy and the Defence Enterprise Information Systems Plan are in the final stages of approval. However, on a negative note, the funding required to implement these plans is currently not available.

24. HR Strategy 2010 implementation has been started with an intake of 1 347 members in the Military Skills Development (MSD) part of the new service system. The systems will progressively replace the short, medium and long term systems.

25. A number of personnel administration problems have been addressed and updated. They include the following:

a. Differentiation between military and civilian posts.

b. A new leave dispensation.

c. Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunities.

d. Fast tracking.

e. Staffing.

f Merit bonuses.

g. Incentives for technical musterings and some other specialized groups.

h. Language policy.

i. Former auxiliary service members.

j. Customary' marriages.

k. Sport and recreation.

26. The question of an exit mechanism for personnel in excess or who have reached the point where they for reasons of age or health cannot be gainfully employed in the SANDF has taken up a lot of effort. It appears as though a breakthrough is imminent, linked to the Transformation and Restructing Plan.

27. Between September 2001 and February 2003 (18 months) the representivity has changed as follows:

a. African 60.7% to 63% (up)

b. Coloured 12,2% to 10,8% (down)

c. Asian 1.2% to 1,4% (up)

d. White 25,7% to 24,6% (down)

28. The representation of women has increased, though marginally, from 19,7% in April 1994 to 20,9% in February 2003.

29. Representivity at the middle management level and in technologically specialised musterings remain a challenge. Various initiatives are underway to address this.

30. The issue of the Reserve Forces is being positively addressed through Project PHOENIX. This should see the transformation and renewal of the Reserves achieved in a relatively short space of time.

3 1. Housing and facilities in general remain a problem.

32. Racism does still exist in the SANDF. However, the important aspect of attitude is in most cases very' positive. For every "incident" of negative racism there are tens or hundreds of "incidents" of positive acceptance, co-operation and joint sharing of the new challenges and responsibilities. This is particularly visible in the new intakes of youngsters.

33. Positive progress is being made with the shared value system and the L CAMPS programme (Leadership, Command and Management Practices, Principles and Policies).

34. The level of grievances and the grievance mechanism is still not to my satisfaction.

35. The spread of HIV'/AIDS has received sustained attention at all levels. Major resources have been committed to this campaign.

36. The Military Justice System has successfully faced up to legal challenges in the Constitutional Court. Fairness and justice have been achieved through a number of mechanisms such as a frilly representative Court of Military Appeals. Representivity in the ranks of military' judges has progressed to a ratio of 50:50 being mostly maintained. The new Military Discipline Bill should be submitted to Parliament this year.

37. Transformation of the military training institutions and curricula has proceeded satisfactorily.

38. There are numerous items in the report and the updated DOD responses which members may wish to explore.


39. This concludes my broad overview of what has taken place in the SANDF as a response to the Tempe incident of 16th September 1999; the Interim Report and the Final Setai Report. The Service and Division Chiefs are now available to reply to any detailed questions you may have.

40. I trust that at the conclusion of this mornings discussions we will be able to close the Setai Report chapter in the history of the SANDF. We will continue to make full use of the numerous briefings and visits to keep parliamentary Committees informed of situations and events in the SANDF. We would like to set our sights on the future.



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