The Committee met virtually for a briefing by the Department of Defence (DOD) and the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on their past performance, and the implementation of recommendations made previously by the Committee.
Members raised their concerns about the under-spending in the DOD, and how it had a negative impact on current projects. They asked if any consideration had been given to amending the training of the Defence Force because of the uprisings that took place recently. There was concern about the cost of employees, because there was no indication that the numbers were going to be reduced, and it seemed as if the Defence Force was still balancing off around 73 000 members. The Department responded that the continuous budget cuts were having an impact on the Department. It was not possible to cut back on personnel all the time. There was a need for a model that could move the Defence Force forward using smart technology.
A Member stressed the importance of military veterans and the work they had done for the country, and said that there were still problems when it came to delivering services to them. The Department had been under-spending for some time, and he wanted to know how they would convince the National Treasury to get more funding. The lockdown was not a sufficient excuse, because under-spending had been going on for some years now. The DMV responded that it was looking at focusing and repositioning the Department into skills empowerment programmes so that they could assist military veterans in sustaining and starting their own businesses. Skills development was of major importance to the Department.
The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans told the Committee that the Defence Force could not continue providing the services without the leadership looking at the challenges involved in equipping it. The current situation was undesirable, and dedicated funding to cover specific missions was required for the Defence Force to honour its duties. He was concerned about the neglect surrounding the equipping of the Defence Force. It was not good practice for Parliament to approve funding for the Defence Force only when there was a problem. It needed to be modernised, with fewer men to manage but delivering what was required of them. However, the current status was the opposite of this, which was concerning.
DOD's quarterly performance report
Ms Gladys Sonto Kudjoe, Secretary of Defence, led the presentation on behalf of the Department.
She started by telling Members that the DOD had institutionalised the results-based management framework as prescribed in the revised framework with effect from the 2020/21 financial year, as a tool to ensure that the Department fulfils its Constitutional mandate as expressed in terms of the intended impact, outcomes and outputs.
The Department planned to maintain a planned average regular personnel strength of 73 153 for the 2021/22 financial year. A projected shortfall of R 2.27 billion was expected for 2021/22 financial year.
During the period under review, the SANDF had supported the following medium term strategic framework (MTSF) priorities:
Priority 6: “Social Cohesion and Safer Communities”:
- The number of landward subunits deployed on border safeguarding per year.
- The number of maritime coastal patrols conducted.
Priority 7: “A Better Africa and a Better World”:
- Percentage compliance with external peace missions, rescue operations and humanitarian assistance operations.
- Countries assisted with development assistance and humanitarian assistance.
In terms of "Support to the People," the SANDF had deployed 15 sub-units to execute Operation Corona (border safeguarding) in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North-West Province.
Two Operation Corona maritime patrols were executed off the KwaZulu-Natal coast and the south coast of the Western Cape respectively. The submarine SAS Manthatisi was deployed off the KwaZulu-Natal coast from 5 to 27 May 2021. The Maritime Reaction Squadron (a reaction force platoon, an operational diving team and an operational boats element) was deployed in the Overberg region of the Western Cape from 26 April to 25 May 2021.
For regional security, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) continued to provide force structure elements to the United Nations peace support operation (PSO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) -- Operation Mistral. These included the SANDF Specialist Contingent in Kinshasa, the Force Intervention Battalion Group in Sake Base, and the Composite Helicopter Unit in Goma. An Operation Copper long range patrol was conducted during the first quarter.
In support of Government departments through Operation Prosper, the SANDF operational concept for safety and security support was to employ multi-role military capabilities on request, according to the prescripts of the Defence Act 42 of 2002. The SANDF was not requested to provide assistance during the first quarter.
Ms Kudjoe said the SANDF assisted with disaster aid and relief through Operation Chariot. The South African Air Force (SAAF) provided assistance to the Department of Health by providing fixed wing air transport for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the country from 1 April 2021 to date. During the last weeks of April, 22 Squadron Oryx helicopters had assisted the City of Cape Town with a serious fire that broke out on Table Mountain. Apart from assisting in extinguishing fires, hikers trapped by the flames were also rescued. Additional firefighting was also performed in the first week of May, with the extinguishing of the fire that broke out in Simons Town.
Through Operation Vimba, the SANDF provide support to the Department of Health in the provision of tertiary medical care in the Gauteng Province. In terms of search and rescue (Operation Arabella), the SANDF was not requested to provide assistance during the first quarter.
The lower spending against the approved cash flow was mainly within the office accommodation sub-programme. This was due to the payment to the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure for the first quarter accommodation charges for the 2021/22 financial year being finalised at the end of March 2021. The lower than planned cash flow was mainly due to the outstanding invoices and delayed payments for satellite communication (C-Band), the C130 systems, vehicle spares and the procurement of vehicles for rotation of deployed members. The negotiations for the placement of new aircraft system contracts for the Gripen and Hawk airframes and engines were still ongoing, due to high fixed costs. Delayed and late activation of new aircraft system contracts for the Oryx, Rooivalk and C130 aircraft systems was due to the current status of Denel.
Delivery dates of spares had been shifted to the right by contractors. This had negatively affected the availability of spares required for the maintenance and repair of vessels, which in turn had a direct impact on the availability and readiness of navy platforms. The reduction in Operation Copper deployments had resulted in the lower expenditure within the maritime security strategy during the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year. The SA Navy intended to reprioritise the funding to maintain and repair naval platforms required for Operation Vikela deployments.
The higher than planned cash flow was as a result of invoices received and paid for the new Military Health Hospital being built in Gqeberha. The project was being managed by the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, and was currently 12 months ahead of schedule.
Over expenditure was mainly due to transactions that created or increased outstanding debtors’ amounts, as well as foreign exchange losses, theft and other losses, etc. It should be noted that the Department had not made provision during the budget allocation for unforeseen expenditure such as foreign exchange losses, theft and other losses, etc. However, funds had been reserved to clear these transactions at the financial year-end.
Mr S Marais (DA) said he was glad that there had been progress on the projects within the Department, but was concerned that the money used was reprioritised funds, and asked what the effect of such a decision had been on the Department. His concern was that it seemed as if the Department had money that they could reprioritise, or they were including these figures in the budget so that the money could be reprioritised during the course of the year. He wanted to know the financial obligations of each of the medium term years, and if the projects were being honoured.
He asked if there was any consideration to amend the training of the Defence Force because of the uprisings that took place recently. Had there been any negotiations with the National Treasury about the increase on Operation Prosper, because initially it was R600 million, but it had been increased by R200 million. This meant it was close to R1 billion, and the effect must be communicated to the Committee. He was also concerned about the cost of employees, because there was no indication that the numbers were going to be reduced, and it seemed as if the Defence Force was still balancing off around 73 000 members. In raising his concern, he added that the cost of employment might rise to more than 63%, and this would have an effect on other projects. The demand for the Defence Force would increase, and there was a need to make sure that everything was in order.
Mr Marais asked about the submarine refits and the amount that they had cost the Department, because the vessels were costing around R660 million each, and this was a huge increase. This was concerning, because it had been reported that the current submarine would enjoy priority. He wanted to know if this was to replace batteries.
In closing, he asked about the effect of the transfer of R1.79 billion from goods and services on the country's defence capabilities.
The Chairperson referred to the matter of the cost of employment shortfall, and asked the Secretary of Defence if there was a plan to deal with this matter. She wanted to know what challenges had been encountered in implementing the recommendations in the progress report, and about the impact of Covid-19 on their implementation.
Ms Kudjoe said that the cost of employment was the only item involving overspending in the Department, and with the intervention of the Portfolio Committee, the Department had been requested to look at the best way of dealing with the matter. A detailed plan had been presented in November 2020 which dealt with the cost of employees. The Department had also looked at the rejuvenation plan, and a proposal was made that it should be done once every three years.
The other issue mentioned in the presentation by the Department was about the military exit mechanism. National Treasury had been consulted on the matter, but they had come back saying that there were no available funds. The shortfall would be around R2.2 billion, but the number could also increase because of the current operations that were taking place, because more soldiers were being deployed.
The Secretary of Defence told the Committee that most of the targets that were not achieved had been because of the Covid-19 regulations, as they could not operate at 100% capacity. The anxiety over Covid-19 had also contributed in a negative way to the completion of tasks. Some of the training had also been stopped because of Covid-19, although there were other factors that had contributed.
Operation Prosper would be impacted by the budget cuts, because as it stands, the operation could be extended. The amount of money received from the National Treasury would not be sufficient to cover all the projects. The Committee had heard that the Department did engage with the National Treasury, but they had to take into consideration that the economy had not been doing well.
The Defence Force operated in a different manner, because their deployment could be approved only by Parliament, but this did not mean that they had the capabilities to manage crowds, because they were not trained to do so. The private sector had also played an important role in assisting the Defence Force by making donations that had helped them to fulfil their duties.
Ms Kudjoe said the Department had anticipated their involvement in the uprisings that took place around the country, and they had been prepared. The budget cuts had a negative impact on the preparations, and the issue of mobility on the borders was also important, because some of the Defence Force members were deployed around the borders. The borders had different features, and this had to be taken into consideration before deployment. There was a need for mobility, but this could not be achieved without the money, because of the budget cuts. The military must always be prepared to integrate in conflicts, whether they were internal or external. Projects has been put aside because of the budget cuts, and this had affected the Defence Force because nothing could be integrated.
The budget cuts were having a major impact on the work of the Defence Force, and this had to be dealt with because it had been going for years. The fact that the Force could not manufacture their own equipment meant that they had to purchase outside the country at higher prices. On the issue of the R1.7 billion, the Department was engaging with the National Treasury. They had committed the Department to look at what they could prioritise, and maybe funds could be released.
Mr Marais said that he had requested information on the value of the projects, and this had not been provided. The previous Minister of Defence had communicated to the Committee that the money for the cost of employees would be provided, and that Operation Vukela would be fully funded by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but he was concerned that there was no clarity at the moment, because what had been communicated was not being implemented. He also said that reducing mandates was not the answer for the Defence Force, and that the priorities should be the refit of the three submarines, and there was certain equipment that had to be repaired.
In response, Ms Kudjoe said that the cost of employment had been a challenge before the budget cuts, and the Department was already underfunded, and subsequently there had been further budget cuts. The continuous budget cuts were having an impact on the Department. It was not possible to cut back on personnel all the time. There was a need for a model that could move the Defence Force forward using smart technology. In the past, the National Treasury used to give extra funding, but currently there was no funding, and this made it difficult for the Department because they have to find the money within their budget. It was a difficult position to be in. The reduction of 2 000 personnel had placed the Department in a better financial position, but it was not possible to continue cutting personnel, because it would lead to the Department being short staffed. The Committee should also support the Department so that there was one voice.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Department's team, and asked the Committee secretary to take note of the point raised by Mr Marais on the availability of funding that had been assured by the previous Minister.
DMV fourth quarter performance report
Ms Irene Mpolweni, Director-General (DG), Department of Military Veterans (DMV) thanked Members for welcoming them to make presentations on behalf of the Department.
Mr Sandisa Siyengo, Chief Director: Research and Policy Development, DMV, made the presentation on behalf of DMV. The purpose of the presentation was to inform the Committee of the Department’s performance against its annual performance plan for the 2020/21 financial year, and about its progress in the fourth quarter.
Despite a reduction of R11.5 million, the cost of employment (CoE) expenditure was below budget by R7.6 million, or 6%, mainly due to a reduction in the use of contract workers and interns, coupled with the current vacancy rate. This was mainly at the senior management level, and included the vacant posts of the DG, two Deputy Directors-General, a Chief Director and three Directors.
There was a notable recovery on benefits spending, driven mainly by higher than expected expenditure on healthcare support and full spending on housing. Other expenditure items remained challenged, such as travel, accommodation, venues and facilities, amongst others. Capital expenditure was also challenged, but some of the underspending would be used to offset pressure points, such as those dealing with benefits.
Goods and services spending of 94% included payments to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), Public Works and the Gfleet, which had been outstanding for more than the prescribed period. Interest on land and transfers and subsidies within administration included claims against the state.
A notably improved expenditure on goods and services and transfers and subsidies was mainly due to improved expenditure on healthcare support and housing. Some of the unspent capex budget had been used to offset cost pressure on benefits.
The lower than expected spending on goods and services was mainly related to an under-spending on travel and accommodation. Skills development expenditure amounted to R3.0 million. In line with the 2020 special adjustment of budget, travel and accommodation was prioritised mainly for the three conferences -- the MK Unification Conference, the South African Cape Corps (SACC) and the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA).
Mr Siyengo told the Committee that an effective R1 million overspend on benefits was mainly as a result of overspending on healthcare, housing and burial support. The overall overspending on benefits would be offset through year-end balancing and virements.
During the fourth quarter, the Department targeted 16 performance areas, and eight targets were achieved. This brought the overall achievement of targets against plan to 50%.
During this quarter, 32 employees were affected by Covid-19 pandemic. Eight positive cases were reported, with one death, and 24 employees came into contact with a person who had tested positive and were quarantined for ten days.
The Department procured PPE for both the DMV's headquarters and provincial offices. PPE for only Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal had been received. To date the Department had sanitised facilities and procured service providers -- the provincial offices were also sanitised during the month of July 2020 by Scientology volunteer ministers.
The screening of employees or visitors entering the DMV building was taking place on a daily basis. The Health and Wellness Officer monitored the register daily. Social distancing signs had been placed inside and outside the building. The Committee and the security personnel ensured that employees and visitors adhered to social distancing.
The Department had allocated funds to fight or deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, and to date it had spent an amount of R1 204 289.
Response to Committee recommendations
During the appearance of the DMV before the Committee on 17 October and 25 November 2020, Committee Members had made remarks and enquired about various matters which could not be responded to during the session, mainly due to time constraints. The DMV had made an undertaking to respond in writing to all outstanding Committee recommendations, which were:
Training and skills development
The Committee recommended that the DMV should interrogate the setting of the target on training and skills development and align it with the current realities, as well as enhancing its efforts to increase the number of beneficiaries to assist with enabling military veterans to be less reliant on the Department. The DMV’s skills targets were reduced in the 2020/21 financial year from the historical target of 5 500 per annum to 250 per quarter, non-cumulative. It had since signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) for skills training in the building environment, whereby the NHBRC covers the bulk of training and logistical costs and the DMV covers only the costs for transporting military veterans/dependents from home to the training venue and back home after training. The DMV was engaging the relevant sector education and training authorities (SETAs) in the various sectors.
Socio-economic support management
The second recommendation was that the Committee felt that the underperformance in the socio-economic support management programme went to the heart of the challenges in the Department, and recommended that the DMV should provide it with concrete plans on how it would unlock these challenges besetting the main service delivery programme. In response, the Committee had heard that the issue required the Departmental structure to be finalised and aligned to the needs of the Department. The establishment of the Presidential Task Team was beginning to help address socio-economic support delivery mechanisms more effectively. The Department was empowering and strengthening the functioning of the provincial offices. Putting appropriate infrastructure in the provinces was being fast tracked, and the DMV was ensuring that provincial coordinators were provided with the required tools of trade to enable their proper functioning. Some of the administrative positions that were advertised were now in the process of appointment. Furthermore, the Department must leverage on the services being provided by other state organs, especially the offices of the Premiers in the provinces. The Department had advertised the position of the Deputy Director-General. It had undertaken an exercise to capacitate areas in the socio-economic support (SES) branch that had challenges with human resources. Some officials had been seconded from the administration branch to assist in the SES branch.
Strategic Planning, Policy Development, Monitoring and Evaluation
Another recommendation made by the Committee was regarding the under-performance by the sub-programme Strategic Planning, Policy Development, Monitoring and Evaluation. The Committee stressed the importance of this sub-programme being fully functional and providing the policy guidance and monitoring as mandated, to ensure the effective overall strategic direction of the Department. In response, the Department had said that the monitoring and evaluation unit was currently managed by an official. The planning unit was currently managed by two officials. Most of the activities under this sub-programme did not require a budget as it was administrative work that was done internally by officials. The policy and planning unit continued to fulfill its mandate. The bulk of the under-spending was due to the budget allocated to the research unit for the documentation of the liberation struggle history, which had not taken place as a result of delays in the development and approval of the project documents with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). The challenge had been rectified for the 2021/22 financial year. A strategic process had led to a development of a three year work plan and was informed by strategic planning and budgeting developed to mitigate against spending a lot of time with administrative and contractual issues.
Capturing and verification of the database
The fourth recommendation that was made by the Committee was in regard to the strides made to finalise the capturing and verification of the database. It recommended that the DMV should reinforce actions to finalise the database as a matter of urgency. In response, the Committee was told that the Chief Directorate: Beneficiary Support Services had analysed the database, and it had been confirmed that the list of credible military veterans were the ones coming from Certified Personnel Register (CPR) list. The verification and database cleansing and enhancement task team had been formed as one of the Presidential task team work streams to finalise the verification process and assist with cleaning of the military veterans' database. The Department was also engaging the associations to deal with the anomalies raised in the files of individuals.
Addressing challenges in Programme Three
The Committee also recommended that the Department provide it with the measures it had taken to address the challenges in Programme Three, and to indicate whether these measures had been effective, as it concerned core activities such as burial support, the erection of memorial sites and training and skill development. In responding, the Committee heard that the Department had critically assessed the skills development portfolio based on processes, budget, experience and history, and had revised the skills development targets in 2020/21. The empowerment and stakeholder management ( ESM) branch had been embarking on provincial outreach programmes that had proven effective in increasing the number of skills applications approved. Clear role identification had been addressed, and the role of the DMV was to facilitate and coordinate. The role of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), working with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and municipalities was to budget and erect the sites.
Issues raised by Auditor General
The Committee had recommended that the leadership of the Department should pay particular attention to the issues raised by the Audit Committee and the Auditor General, and provide it with a progress report in this regard since the start of the current financial year (2020/212). In response, the Department had said that it accepted the recommendation and agreed fully with the issues that had been raised. The audit plan had been discussed within the management command bodies. Ownership and execution of these actions had been allocated to the relevant branch heads. The internal audit function was to coordinate, advise and liaise with the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) on these issues.
Leadership challenges and consequence management
The Committee had made a recommendation that it should be briefed by the Department on progress made to address the leadership challenges, and especially how it was implementing consequence management since the advent of the 2020/21financial year. In response, the Committee heard from Mr Siyengo that the DMV had requested assistance from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in dealing with this exercise. A report had been finalised and submitted to the DMV with recommendations. The Acting Director General had appointed a financial mismanagement panel, which had been considering the work done by the DPME. About 37 cases had been removed from the register, and 64 cases were being analysed to establish whether there was a financial loss or not. Part of the process had been to write to the identified officials. The consequence management was work in progress.
Pension and public transport policies
The Committee had recommended that the Department should finalise and approve the pension and public transport policies expeditiously in order to deliver on these benefits, and that it should brief it on progress made since the start of the new financial year. In response, Mr Siyengo told the Committee that the draft pension policy had been finalised, and had gone through the approval processes by the relevant authorities. It had consulted with the Department of Social Development, the government pension administration agency and the National Treasury on 12 March and 8 April 2021, in order to look at its urgent implementation and sustainability. The subsidised public transport policy was still in a draft format, and there was a plan to pilot the implementation of subsidised transport so that lessons learnt from the pilot could be used to finalise the policy. The MoU had been signed by the accounting officers of the Department of Transport and the DMV.
Review of DMV's organogram
Another recommendation from the Committee was that the Department should brief it on the actions taken and the progress made to review the organogram and fill the vacancies -- especially the appointment of a permanent DG for the Department. The Committee heard that the Service Delivery Model (SDM) had been refined and presented to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) together with a proposed functional structure that had already been created for technical analysis. The DPSA had sent back the analysis to the DMV to re-work the proposed functional structure, and bring it within funded posts. Due to challenges with capacity in the DMV, the Department was considering the use of a service provider to assist in finalising the functional structure so that it could be submitted to the DPSA for further analysis and advice.
Enhanced access to hospitals
The Committee recommended that the issues of access to nearby public and private hospitals via sickbays and military hospitals should be enhanced, especially speeding up the processes to utilise treatment for specialised services based on referrals by military health practitioners. In response, the Department said that through the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS), they usually assess the seriousness of the patient and make a decision where to send the patient in consultation with the DMV. Most of these patients were sent to private hospitals. Through the MoU with theSAMHS, the DMV continued to enhance the speed with which authorisation and access to healthcare facilities both in public and private facilities was provided.
Legal claims against the DMV
The Committee had recommended that the Department should, on a quarterly basis, inform it of the status of legal claims against it, including the fiscal implications of each claim. The Department heard that a contingent liability report was submitted to the AGSA on a quarterly basis, and was also being presented to the management committee (MANCO) on a monthly basis. The report showed the parties, the quantum and detail on the matter. Court dates were also indicated. Legal Services attempted to act in the best interest of the DMV at all times and would defend matters. The quantum of claims should not necessarily have to be paid, as these matters must be heard in court where a judge/magistrate had to hear the merits and give a decision.
Mr T Mmutle (ANC) asked about the issue of interns and wanted to know the way forward, since it had been indicated that there was no intake currently. He asked how many current interns had been absorbed into the Department, or if it was just a matter of compliance to get interns and not return them after their contracts. He said that it was not acceptable to embark on programmes just for compliance, considering the high level of unemployment in the country.
Mr M Shelembe (DA) raised a concern in regard to the meeting, wanting to know which Members had been present at the beginning at the meeting.
The Chairperson asked Mr Shelembe to ask questions only on the presentation, and then other issues would be raised at a later stage.
Mr Shelembe was concerned about the importance of military veterans and the work they had done for the country, and said that there were still problems when it came to delivering services to military veterans. The Department had been under-spending for some time, and he wanted to know how they would convince the National Treasury to get more funding. The lockdown was not a sufficient excuse, because under-spending had been going on for some years now. He asked the Committee to pay more attention to the skills audit, because there seemed to be no progress at all despite payments that were made. The issue must be prioritised so that it was dealt with.
Mr Marais said that a lot had been said and views expressed, but there was a need for a significant increase in services support, especially medical support and housing. He wanted to know what was being done by the Department about the slow responses, because even Members of the Committee were also experiencing slow service. What should be done, because there was no compliance in meeting the needs of military veterans, and it was not a good state of affairs.
The Acting Chairperson wanted to know which provinces had contractors, and if there was a consistent awareness programme to inform the provinces.
Mr Siyengo said no interns had been absorbed in the current group because the DMV had had issues with contract workers, and this had led to interns competing with other contract workers, and they had not made it.
Ms Mpolweni said that the DMV was looking at focusing and repositioning the Department into skills empowerment programmes so that they could assist military veterans in sustaining and starting their own businesses. Skills development was of major importance to the Department.
On the issue of a skills audit, she said the Department had reviewed most of the cases related to consequence management, and to date three officials had been put on precautionary suspension and the investigations were ongoing.
What was causing the Department to respond late to matters raised by the Committee was because of capacity challenges. There were various platforms to be used, including call centres and emails, although landlines may not be answered because of the staff shortages. An enquiries desk had been set up for walk-ins, and a similar approach had also been implemented in the provinces. The DMV was trying its level best to respond to all matters that would be raised.
Mr Marais said that the response from the Department was not an answer, because they were merely saying that they were doing their job and there was nothing more they could do. There was poor service delivery and the answer had been very vague because it did not give anything to the Committee, and it was unacceptable.
The Chairperson agreed with the concerns raised by Mr Marais, and said that a better response should have been given by the Department. The DMV must look into the issues raised and give the Committee detailed feedback.
Ms Mpolweni accepted that the answer was not good enough, and acknowledged that the DMV would revert back to the Committee with more information. She said there was a process currently taking place on the Act of 2011, and it would review all the benefits that were being offered by the Department. The Presidential task team was looking at all the issues, and the DMV was also waiting for more inputs from stakeholders on how the policies could be implemented.
The Chairperson thanked the DMV for their presentation, and invited the Deputy Minister to give his comments.
Deputy Minister's comments
Mr Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to address the Committee, and apologised for joining the meeting late, which had resulted in his missing some of the discussions. He said the Minister was not able to attend the meeting because of her duties, and that she was out of the country.
He told the Committee that the Defence Force could not continue providing the services without the leadership looking at the challenges involved in equipping it. The current situation was undesirable, and dedicated funding to cover specific missions was required for the Defence Force to honour its duties. He was concerned about the neglect surrounding the equipping of the Defence Force. It was not good practice for Parliament to approve funding for the Defence Force only when there was a problem. It needed to be modernised, with fewer men to manage but delivering what was required of them, but the current status was the opposite of this, which was concerning.
Deputy Minister Makwetla said there would be a submission by the Department to the Committee so that they could share some of the problems at the Defence Force. The under-spending happened because the Department had not entirely covered the health needs of the military veterans.
Another matter raised by the Deputy Minister concerned the oversight of the Committee. He asked whether a briefing to the Committee could be included in the programme for September, since the matter had been raised before. The briefing would be on the work of the Presidential task team.
In closing, he introduced the Director General of Military Veterans, Ms Irene Mpolweni, because this had not been done at the beginning of the meeting. He praised her for the work that she had done so far.
The Acting Chairperson welcomed the Director General. She said that for the Department to meet certain targets, they had to work with other departments. The Committee would allow them to do so and expected them to give detailed feedback when they appeared before the Committee again. She requested that the Department should speed up some of the matters that had been raised by Members, because people wanted service and the Committee had to deliver.
The Acting Chairperson asked for Mr Shelembe to raise his issue so that the Committee could engage.
Mr Shelembe asked the Committee secretary for a breakdown of the composition of the Committee. He wanted to know who represented which political party.
The secretary responded that the Committee had 11 permanent Members.
Mr Shelembe was concerned about the status of alternative Members in the Committee, because in one previous meeting Mr Walters had not been allowed to speak because he was an alternate, but nothing had been said about the IFP alternate Member who had attended the meeting.
The Acting Chairperson asked the secretary to include the issue on the agenda of the next meeting so that it could be discussed by Members.
Mr Marais concurred with the Acting Chairperson, but added that the Committee must clarify the status of the IFP.
The meeting was adjourned.
- DMV: Q4 Performance Information Report
- Information brief: DOD QPR4 • DOD Annual Pre-Audited - DOD QPR1 (including BRRR and Vote 23 progress)
- Information brief: DOD QPR4 • DOD Annual Pre-Audited - DOD QPR1 (including BRRR and Vote 23 progress)
- Minister Mapisa Nqakula
- DMV BRRR responses
- Department of Defence First Quarterly Performance Report on Performance against Plan for FY2021/22 over Period 01 April 2021 to 30 June 2021
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