OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE ON ITS OVERSIGHT VISIT TO SIMON’S TOWN
NAVAL BASE AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN MILITARY ACADEMY AT SALDANHA: 07 – 08 MAY 2007
The Portfolio Committee on Defence, having undertaken an oversight visit to the South African Naval Base at Simon’s Town and South African Military Academy at Saldanha, on 07 and 08 May 2007, reports as follows:
This report is presented in the context of the oversight role assigned to the National Assembly by the Constitution. These visits were conducted as part of the Portfolio Committee’s oversight and monitoring role over the Department of Defence, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and their institutions.
Information contained in this report is based on presentations made and interactions between the Committee and officials of both institutions, as well as relevant documentation. A full list of delegation members, officials from the South African Naval Base and
TERMS OF REFERENCE
In addition to the aforementioned exercise of the Committee’s constitutionally mandated oversight role; and within the framework of the constitutional imperatives of transformation; affirmative action and employment equity, good governance, delivery, accountability and non-racialism, the Committee had the following objectives:
i) Simon’s Town Naval Base:
The efficacy of psychometric testing: The Committee sought greater clarity on the standards and procedures followed in the psychological assessment and processes of naval officers, and whether these were effective in addressing the imperatives of transformation.
Transformation of the South African Navy: The Committee hoped to ascertain the progress made in the transformation of the South African Navy, including the successes and challenges to this process.
Conditions of facilities:
The Committee wanted to view the state of both living and training facilities, to gain insight into the conditions in which naval officers work and live.
Lessons learnt from Canadian Study Tour:
Both the Portfolio Committee on Defence and officials from the
Previous oversight visits to the
One of the ways in which the Committee can monitor the implementation of legislation and policies of the Department, is to investigate the implementation of policies and recommendations made on the previous two oversight visits on
Staff Concerns: The Committee intended to meet with lecturers of the
Student Concerns: The delegation intended to meet with the students at the
Interaction with senior management of the Academy: The delegation wanted to meet with the senior officials from the Academy to highlight the concerns raised by both lecturers and students and to highlight the necessity of critical areas to attention.
The Committee made the following findings, based on the presentations made and subsequent discussions with officials:
DAY 1 : Simon’s Town Naval Base (Monday,
1. Briefing by Admiral R W Higgs (Chief of Fleet Staff) and Admiral Madimu (Chief of the South African Navy)
In their briefing to the Committee, officials from the South African Fleet Command identified the South African Navy’s core mission as follows: ‘to fight at sea; to win at sea, to become unchallenged at sea.’ In this vain, the purpose of the Chief of Navy was to provide supported combat ready naval forces for CJ operations while the Fleet Command needed to prepare supported combat ready naval forces for the C Navy.
Key priorities of the South African Navy were identified as:
· Greater involvement in
· Participation in government initiatives in
· Greater South-South Co-operation.
· Building a People’s Navy.
The South African Navy is enhancing its continental focus through the following initiatives:
· Operationalisation of frigates and submarines.
· Augmentation of current forces with new capabilities
· Ensuring compatibility with neighbours in terms of standard operating procedures, doctrines as well as common training.
Efforts to improve the delivery and performance of the fleet was also highlighted and included:
· Rationalisation of combat hardware and ships, thus disposing of old and non-cost effective vessels.
· Continued transformation and revitalisation of the Reserve Forces.
· The upgrading of facilities which include modernised headquarters, and the construction of new training facilities.
· The SA Navy has integrated the previous seven standing reserves into the units of the South African Navy which was part of efforts to bring about an integrated SA Navy corps.
Certain challenges were also highlighted, which could have a negative impact on the ability to achieve key goals and priorities:
· The Navy struggled to retain specialised or scarce skilled personnel. These could not be easily replaced due to the limited availability of such skills.
· The strained ability to adapt and transform infrastructure required to support the strategic defence packages into service.
· Strained ability to conduct the required and contracted qualification trials necessary to integrate the strategic defence packages into service.
· The age profile is a cause of concern, since the retention and recruitment of youth remains a challenge.
· Although the rationalisation process was necessary, the SA Navy could be challenged by the reduction in both manpower and budget. Although the SA Navy was working towards increasing its relevance in the African battle space as well as to align itself with broader government initiatives; such an increasing role necessitates increased in available funding.
Summary of key issues raised by the Committee, emanating from presentation
· Noting the down-scaling of fleet; the Committee expressed concern over the possible impact on the Navy’s ability to secure the South African coastlines.
· The ability to respond adequately to natural disasters anywhere in
· The effect of limited staff capacity on the implementation of key projects such as Project Millennium.
· The training of cadettes and the relationship between the SA Navy and SA Air force.
· The SA Navy’s involvement in deep-sea mining activities and the recovery of sunken vessels.
· The Chairperson urged greater exposure of female officers, regardless of rank, to high-level discussions and interactions with the Portfolio Committee.
· The retaining of institutional memory of the Navy was critical, and therefore the success of projects such as project millennium was essential.
3. Postponement of discussions on the efficacy of psychometric testing of naval officers
Due to time constraints and the sensitive nature of psychometric assessments in the SANDF, the Committee agreed that a meeting be rescheduled for a lengthier and comprehensive discussion on this matter. Officials acknowledged the public sensitivity and controversy surrounding such tests; the nature of which also merrited discussion.
The Chairperson cautioned officials that the Portfolio Committee’s interest in better understanding the process of psychometric testing of naval officers was not informed by any allegations. As these tests were utilised as an important tool in determining the pschycological eligibility for entrance into the Navy, an investigation into such processes was needed. This was particularly important as
The Committee noted the following key areas of need in terms of transformation:
· The middle management of the SANDF must be made fully representative.
· Given the strategic objectives of the Department of Defence; the transformation of the SA Navy needed to reflect the South African demographics.
· The Portfolio Committee had a responsibility to ensure the implementation of all strategic objectives set, as well as to ensure the global competitiveness of the Navy.
· There needed to be a deliberate intention of transformation to deal with the legacies of past discrimination.
Tour of facilities
Rear Admiral K Louw accompanied the Committee on a tour of the Simon’s Town Naval facilities. The building plans for new accommodation were also explained. The building of new facilities was scheduled to commence at the end of 2007. The following facilities were viewed:
· The site for the planned new accommodation.
· The new modernised headquarters which will improve the practical operation of the naval base.
· Recently completed housing facilities for junior naval officers and their families.
· The shipping and docking facilities.
· Training facilities.
The total cost for the construction was
estimated at R256 million, of which R30 million would be budgeted from the
annual operational budget. Although the necessary funding for this project was
not readily available, construction could be completed over a three year
period. The revenue generated from the closure and sale of SAS Wingfield
DAY 2: South African
Military Academy (Tuesday, 8 May 2007)
The Portfolio Committee on Defence conducted a visit to the South African Military Academy on both 19 January 2005 and 5 September 2006 as part of its oversight and monitoring of Department of Defence, the South African National Defence Force [SANDF] and their institutions. During both visit (s) the Committee assessed the implementation of recommendations made in 2005 and made further recommendations based on their findings.
The report is based on the second follow-up visit, led by the Committee Chairperson, Ms Thandi Tobias, to investigate the implementation of recommendations made during the 2006 oversight visit.
Additional items on the Committee’s agenda included an exchange of ideas on separate study tours to the
2. Briefing on the study tour to the
Officials from the South African Military Academy at Saldanha undertook a study tour to the
Differences in the reporting lines of the Deans of
the respective Academies were also noted. While the Dean of the South African
Military Academy at Saldanha reports to the
Commandant, her Canadian counterpart reports directly to the Minister of
Unlike its South African counterpart, the
Like the Royal Academy, South Africa needs to
generate research on current peacekeeping operations it involved itself with,
especially those in
· Unlike its Canadian counterpart, library services at the Academy were not up to standard. This needs greater attention.
3. The Committee’s response
to the presentation
The Committee made the following observations, based on both the Committee’s experiences during the study tour of
· The ethos of the South African Military Academy at Saldanha needs to be reflected in the image of the institution. A professional culture needs to be developed and the physical infrastructure needed to be upgraded.
· A pragmatic approach to learning and teaching is important to both transform the culture of teaching at the institution and to produce research and theorising on current security issues, conflicts and peace keeping operations. The extent to which the work of the Academy directs and informs the administration is very important.
· A synergy between the physical and academic development of students at South African Military Academy at Saldanha was important to ensure the nurturing of well-balanced, educated, physically resilient and competitive members of the Defence Forces.
· Pride in being part of the SANDF needs to be instilled through honouring and commemorating the contribution of war veterans made in the defence of our country.
· Improvements in the reporting lines of the Dean need to be investigated and improved upon.
· The relevance of specialisation and the PHDs produced to the defence or security field is necessary, rather than only an increase in research produced. This research needed to be useful to the Department and to contribute in the understanding of security matters.
· The extension of the degree programme to four years merits further discussion.
· The exchange programme needs to focus on both students and lecturers, to ensure that both parties are allowed to develop academically.
· Language in the context of the role and priorities of the South African Military Academy at Saldanha was central. The significance of language in the South African Military Academy at Saldanha, given the strategic priorities of the SANDF, needed to be reflected in the curriculum.
· Lessons drawn from the study tour needed to be utilised to achieve higher standards of professionalism, internationally competitive military and academic skills, and to assist in the development of a model to ensure the harmonious co-existence of both military training and academics.
Creative ways of transforming
Although lessons could be drawn from the
Given the centrality of the NEPAD programme and
· Advantage needed to be taken of the various technological advancements to ensure the continuous improvement in teaching and training at the South African Military Academy at Saldanha.
· The ways in which training is incorporated into the curriculum needed re-examination to ensure that academic development and training co-exist harmoniously.
Greater levels of maturity and co-operation at the
· Greater relationships between stakeholders as well as foreign institutions need to be fostered to ensure access to greater research funding.
· The implementation of Committee recommendations: Briefing by Admiral D J Christian of the South African Military Academy
Recommendation 1: The curriculum should be carefully reviewed and improved.
Progress made: A Task Team, set up by the Dean of the Academy, produced a draft report on the outcomes of its review of the current curriculum in March 2007. Due to the complexity of changing a curriculum, the Department is due to consult with as many stakeholders as possible, including the Portfolio Committee on Defence. This process would not be hurried, and a final report is due during 2008.
The Academy needs to be transformed into an ‘Academy of Excellence’
Progress made: The Department incorporated the twin goals of academic excellence and the nurturing of world class leaders in the military and academic field, in its vision and new goals, adopted in 2006. Although this was not an immediately attainable goal; the Department believed that the foundations for the development of internationally competitive
· Staff participation in both international and national conferences is encouraged.
· Greater research outputs were demanded. This followed the result of a study undertaken by the Department of Education which illustrated the decline in research outputs by the Academy. In this vain, the number of PHDs candidates produced by South African Military Academy at Saldanha would increase over time.
· Annual staff development visits take place in June each year. Interviews are also conducted to ensure that faculty members and lecturers are enjoying their current research.
· Two national conferences are being planned for 2007.
The Higher Education Assessment Committee should review the professional degrees offered by the Academy.
Progress made: Independent studies conducted by the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Department of Education, the School for Science and Technology as well as the School for Security and African Studies highlighted the following problem areas:
· Insufficient funding
Issues related to the contractual relationship
between the Department and the
Lack of staff
· The need to improve research outputs
· Ineffective human resource management
· Problems associated with its certificate programme
The remaining three schools would be assessed during the course of 2007.
The Dean would submit a development plan to the
The process for reporting and addressing the complaints of sexual harassment must be addressed.
Progress made: A representative Sexual Harassment Committee has been appointed, chaired by Ms N Van Der Waag. No formal complaints had been received since April 2006.
The language policy needs to be reviewed, especially as it relates to practical matters such as meetings and correspondence within the Academy.
Progress made: Although English had been formally adopted as the language of instruction, it is very difficult to change the institutional culture of which communication in Afrikaans was a cornerstone. Correspondence from management was sometimes received in Afrikaans. R100 000 had been provided for translation services.
The Academy’s Distance Education courses should be done in close cooperation with Department of Education.
Progress made: From the inception of Distance Education courses in 2003, this programme had produced its first two graduates in 2003. There are currently 64 undergraduates and 71 post - graduate students. The management of Distance learning programmes offered has improved due to the appointment of the necessary competent staff. A project was currently underway which would link
The Department of Public Works and Department of Defence to upgrade facilities; Computer facilities needed to be upgraded.
Progress made: Computers had been upgraded and were regularly replaced or upgraded.
Vacancies should be advertised and filled within a maximum of three month period
Progress made: The recruitment and appointment process of the DOD was explained, and allowed for a six-week advertising time frame; one week short listing process; a three week selection process by the selection board, a three week waiting time for feed back on recommendations submitted to the University of Stellenbosch; three weeks waiting period for approval by Minister, before letters of appointment can be issued.
Recommendation should be given to the Department of Education for funding through the usual block grant.
Progress made: The block grant will be done through the
In the interest of Academic excellence; the system of paying lecturers according to the South African National Defence Force salary scales should be terminated. At present, the Department of Defence is responsible for the remuneration of academic personnel
Progress made: The University of Stellenbosch was reluctant to give details of the remuneration packages of their Academic staff. At a recent Stellenbosch University Board meeting it was agreed to provide the information that was requested through a letter from the DoD. This information is still pending and is to be included in the proposal on remuneration to be submitted for consideration.
The critical tuning point in the relationship between
Progress made: The relationship between
Dean should be given security of tenure:
Progress made: The appointment of the Dr van Harte as the Dean for a period of five years had been done through a Memorandum of Understanding. The Dean would report via the Vice Rector of Education to the Rector and would be remunerated by the University.
5. The Committee identified the following matters that needed further clarification
An imbalance between the level of vacancies at the Academy and the high levels of new students recruited posed a challenge. What was being done to remedy the situation?
The quality of the distance learning programme in comparison with the full-time study programme at the
The reach of South African Military Academy at Saldanha should be expanded to other military bases. The idea of satellite campuses merited further exploration.
The rejuvenation of the
Given the lack of improvement in the academic results, much more needed to be done to improve the overall pass rate.
A lack of confidence in the future relevance of the South African Military Academy at Saldanha was detected. The Committee urged officials to engage Members of Parliament on the reasons for this. This would assist the committee in formulating recommendations on the ways to strengthen the institution.
Clarity on the extent of opportunities for further study opportunities beyond the Military Skills Development System [MSDS] curriculum and employment opportunities for graduates were also probed.
The establishment of the Sexual Harassment Committee was noted. The South African Military Academy at Saldanha needed to provide clarification on the operating procedures of this Committee. How was sexual harassment cases managed?
6. Meeting with Lecturers and Teaching Assistants
As in 2005, the Committee delegation met again with about 100 staff members. Their key areas of concern included:
· The high turn-over of black academics. Staff members felt that the Committee had a key role to play to ensure the retention and attraction of black lecturers to South African Military Academy at Saldanha
· The existing recruitment and equity plans were ineffective. It was felt that the Committee has a responsibility to ensure the full transformation of the culture of the institution.
· Securing promotion according to the current promotion plan was difficult. Delays in the finalisation of promotions were impacting negatively on the morale of staff.
· Current salary scales were not sufficiently competitive, compared to those of other universities.
· The research capacities of faculties needed to be improved to ensure that both professors and junior researchers further develop their research skills. Greater allocation of funds to build the research capacity and profile South African Military Academy at Saldanha as a research institution, were needed. Lecturing without continuous development of the research capacity was not feasible.
· The institution’s profile as a higher education facility needed to be raised to ensure comparability with similar, domestic and international tertiary institutions. This should be twinned with the upgrading of facilities.
· Vacant posts needed to be filled as a matter of urgency.
· Although committed to transformation, there was a need for a dedicated diversity management programme.
· The budget should be increased in line with the growth in student intake.
7. Meeting with students
As in 2005, the Committee delegation met again with approximately 200 students. The following issues were raised:
· Incongruence between the standard procedures and policies introduced by different arms of services and the overall DOD policy was identified. The Committee needed to provide clarity on which policy took precedence.
· Preference for entrance into the Military Skills Development System [MSDS] programme should be given to matriculants. Enrolment at other tertiary institutions should be encouraged for those applicants with incomplete degrees.
· Concerns were raised over the employment prospects in the public sector, since many students will not be recruited to work in other departments. How could the portfolio committee assist in dealing with this matter?
· Although the South African Military Academy at Saldanha was encouraged to accelerate transformation of the Academy, a progress report on the extent of this transformation was still pending.
· In terms of the Military Skills Development System, what criteria were being used to identify those skills that are considered marketable?
· The lack of funding to recruit lecturers and retain postgraduate students, especially those of previously disadvantaged backgrounds, constrained the transformation of this Academy.
· There was a need for more skilled personnel.
· Concerns were expressed over the high rate of failure, and the impact the limited access to adequate library services had on the successful completion of studies.
· The faculties were not spending their budgets as required.
· Given the lack of security of employment, many are tempted to work in the private sector.
8. Meeting with the management of the Academy
The management team, which included the Dean of the Academy, Dr E Van Harte, noted the concerns raised by students and staff, and provided the following responses to specific matters:
· The Academy is committed to the spending of the budget. However due to the ring-fencing of the Academy’s budget, some departments could not spend their budgets timeously.
· The understaffing of the library is acknowledged, but cautioned that the appointment of staff was a function of the command management. Management was aware of the shortages of library material and inconvenient closing times of the library. This matter was closely monitored.
Challenges to the implementation of the MSDS
experienced by both students and teachers were noted. Although the
Following the outcomes of the Portfolio Committee on Defence’s interactions with officials from the South African Navy in Simonstown and the South African Military Academy at Saldanha as well as careful consideration of information provided, the Committee submits the following recommendations:
(i) South African Navy, Simon’s Town
The Committee acknowledges and appreciates the continued efforts to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of the South African Navy. The preservation of the institutional memory of the SA Navy is critical and thus the implementation of strategies such as the 2010 Human Resource Strategy.
The Committee recommends lengthier discussions with the Department on the psychometric testing within the SANDF. The rescheduling of such interaction should be prioritised.
The Committee acknowledges concerns expressed over the funding limitations faced by the South African Navy. However, given the developmental imperatives of the South African government, reflected in budgetary priorities, creative ways to address challenges needs to be developed.
The exposure of women officers, regardless of rank, to interactions with the Portfolio Committee, should be promoted.
The transformation of the Academy remains critical. The staff and student population needs to be reflective of the national demographics.
The staff vacancy rate is too high. It is imperative that the Academy remains sufficiently staffed.
The need for further development of the Academy’s research capacity is noted. Creative methods of accessing additional sources of research funding needs to be developed. Closer links between the private sector, particularly fellow research institutions, both domestically and abroad, needs to be fostered.
There is a need for satellite campuses to particularly other military bases across
Much work needs to be done to improve the quality of both exam results and low pass rates.
Library services currently offered are insufficient to the study needs of students. Such services and the study material available must be urgently improved. Advantage needs to be taken of current technological development.
Greater balance between the physical and intellectual development of students are needed. The review of the current three year degree programme offered by the Academy to accommodate this balance is important.
Commitment to National Service and the aims of the public service needs to be encouraged among both students and staff members. It is important that students are not demoralised, as this would affect professionalism at the Academy.
The retention of lecturers and the increased development of PHD students needs to be prioritised. The recruitment of specialised lecturers, particularly black and female, should be actively promoted.
FORMAL ADOPTION OF REPORT BY THE COMMITTEE:
This report of the oversight visit to the South African Military Academy, having been put to the Committee, was adopted on
Report to be considered.
COMMITTEE DELEGATION LIST
Ms T V Tobias [Chairperson and leader of the delegation]
Mr S B Ntuli: [ANC]
Mr J Schippers: [ANC]
Ms P Daniels: [ANC]
Mr L Diale: [ANC]
Mr S Pheko: [PAC]
OFFICIALS FROM SOUTH AFRICAN NAVAL BASE, SIMONSTOWN:
Vice Admiral J. Mudimu
Rear Admiral H. Bester
Rear Admiral (JG) K. Louw
Rear Admiral (JG) P. Duze
Rear Admiral (JG) R. Higgs
Capt L. Fourie
Capt L. Hutton
Officials from the South African Military Academy [Management]:
Commandant of the Military Academy
R Adm D J Christian
Dean of the Faculty of Military Science: Professor D J Malan
Dean of Students: Dr E Van Harte, University of Stellenbosch
Military Professional Development Programmes:
Lieutenant Colonel S B Nombewu
Colonel G M Louw
Ensign S Ndlovu
General Officer Commanding Training Command
Maj Gen M A Ntshinga
Chief of Staff
Col K Mancotywa
Chief of Joint Operations of the South African National Defence
Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima