Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 19 – Defence
EPC – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Friday, 3 July 2009 Take: 206
FRIDAY, 3 JULY 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 11:17.
House Chairperson Mr K O Bapela, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote No 19 – Defence:
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS (Ms L N Sisulu): Thank you very much, Chairperson. Chairperson, at the start of this debate, we were informed that you could not be found. I just thought that I would give you a friendly reminder that in this environment that I am in now, we do not allow for a vacuum. [Laughter.]
Allow me, Chairperson, to acknowledge the presence here with us today of a delegation of Namibian ministers, who are here with us for the South Africa-Namibia binational. We have with us the minister of safety and security, the minister of defence and the minister of home affairs. [Applause.]
Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, in September last year, former Minister Charles Nqakula became Minister of Defence after a well-publicised sudden double vacancy in the Ministry. In eight short months he boosted the morale of the Defence Force and gave it dignity and integrity. We extend our sincerest appreciation to you, dear Comrade Charles, for your contribution, given in humility, as always. [Applause.] May you have many peaceful nights, knowing that you have handed this institution over to two equally committed people, the Deputy Minister and I.
Today, as I speak, despite the challenges that we encounter around the doctors’ strike, I stand very proud that there is not a single South African that needs medical assistance at affected public hospitals that is not provided such assistance, as the Defence Force has stepped in to fill the gap left by the striking medical practitioners. The SA Medical Health Services is currently deployed in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Free State, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. My sincere gratitude goes to all those officers who have responded to our urgent call for assistance as we allow the Minister of Health to resolve all other outstanding challenges in the health sector. You have delivered us from an untenable situation and done us very proud.
That leads me to say with confidence to this House that our country and our people are in good hands in the Defence Force, at all times. General Ngwenya, chiefs of the services, to you and the Defence Force, thank you very much. [Applause.]
Chairperson, we have with us today representatives of military veterans. It is a singular honour for us that when finally the government sought to recognise the immense contribution of our military veterans, we, my deputy and I, should have been found to be the people to chart the scope and direction of this commitment.
It is a poignant and significant moment indeed for all of us who sit in these chambers and craft laws, secure in a democracy which we owe to our veterans. It has taken us as a government a long time to get to this point. We recognise that without you, we would not be who we are, or where we are. Finally, you are now in your rightful place, and this is cause for celebration. [Applause.]
To execute our responsibility we have established a task team consisting of members of the Military Veterans Association and representatives of various stakeholders. The task team resides under the Deputy Minister and he will elaborate on this in his input. Preliminary indications are that we would want to go the route of a separate Vote and a separate department for Military Veterans. [Applause.] Mr van der Merwe, you better close your mouth! This would allow us to create the necessary vehicle within which we can provide for our responsibilities for military veterans.
Notwithstanding the protracted delay in addressing this issue, it is my considered view that our approach be informed by well-researched, properly benchmarked and well-crafted strategies. It is in this regard that the Deputy Minister will place the task team report before this House for consideration as we build consensus around military veterans’ issues, through a thorough consultation with other organs of state, industry and business, so as to provide for knowledge sharing in developing a multipronged strategy. The deadline we have set ourselves is October 2009. I humbly ask the military veterans, the people affected by this, for a little more patience as we craft this vehicle that will support our work. We pledge our commitment to you and we hope we can make up in some way for the pain and sacrifice you have endured.
Now, I turn to the budget. Hon members will understand that the budget as it stands before us right now is primarily concerned with the Defence Force.
At this point I want to acknowledge the Portfolio Committee on Defence, our oversight body. I am looking forward to a good and strong working relationship. As you all know, there are a number of challenges that we are facing in Defence that require us to work together. It is my hope that the Portfolio Committee on Defence will in this regard be sympathetic to defence matters. Did I get a smile from you?
In the past three weeks we have had occasion to brief the Portfolio Committee on Defence on our strategic vision for the current period. We were encouraged that members of the committee were very clearly on top of their responsibility. I want to assure them: So are we, and we hope that this makes for a very healthy and dynamic partnership.
My Deputy Minister and I are not new to this portfolio. As a matter of fact, we are pleased to be back at a place where we both cut our political teeth. It is our intention to nurture the relationship between ourselves and the committee for the benefit of our national assets - the SA National Defence Force and the people who fought for our freedom, the military veterans.
In the past week an important matter has been raised in discussions of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, important in the sense that right at the outset it allows us to be in alignment with each other, and ensures alignment with the rules and regulations of Parliament and the spirit of the Constitution. The matter under discussion is the demand by the portfolio committee that the Department of Defence provides it with a briefing on the state of readiness of the SA National Defence Force. As I indicated, the Deputy Minister and I are old hacks in this environment. We both sat on the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, we both sat on the Portfolio Committee on Defence, we both sat on the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and we both sat on the committee making inputs to the constitution-writing process, specifically dealing with defence and security. Here therefore is the spirit of the Constitution that we were part of creating and our understanding of this.
To give effect to section 199(8) of the Constitution, the basic assumption and intent was that, while we understood that we had an oversight responsibility, which ensured maximum accountability, we also had ensured that this oversight responsibility was sensitive to the security and the defence establishment and that this security was as important to protect as was the requirement for transparency.
Now, it is quite possible – I have no idea, but it is quite possible - that over the years a different practice has slowly been creeping in. It is fortuitous therefore that the matter was raised right at the beginning of our term in office, for it allows us to put corrective measures in place. I urge members to look into the matter so that we in the executive are very clear on what the various mandates are: Our mandate, your mandate, the mandate of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the mandate of the Joint Committee on Security Matters in Parliament. We have an obligation to insist that the state of readiness of the SANDF can only be given to such a committee as has the right to call for closed meetings. If such a committee is indeed the Portfolio Committee on Defence, it would help us to have this as a common understanding. Then we can make the necessary arrangements that at all times when you require briefings which we regard as of a secure nature, we call for closed meetings.
It is in the interests of the country and in your interest that we insist on this. We have no other interest beyond ensuring that your security is protected by all concerned. We stand ready therefore to brief you on the state of readiness of the SANDF. We only ask that you ensure the security environment and mandate where this can be done.
I was heartened, however, to see that at the last briefing on the state of readiness of the SANDF in 2008, the committee had itself ensured maximum adherence to security requirements.
We have now been responsible for the Defence Force for all of six harrowing weeks. It would be proper right from the outset to admit that we have major challenges at Defence and it is for this reason that we are hoping to have a good relationship with the portfolio committee, one that transcends party-political boundaries and concentrates on this national asset.
The first challenge that confronts us is a declining budget where our domestic obligations remain defined in the Constitution, against a backdrop of our growing international responsibilities; against a deteriorating infrastructure; and, very importantly, against a clear and pressing reality that the conditions of service for the Defence Force need our immediate attention. We have a responsibility to enhance and maintain comprehensive defence capabilities to ensure that the territorial integrity of our country and its sovereignty is protected. This is a constitutional requirement and we need to keep ourselves in a state of competence, in a state of constant renewed advancement, and, in a language that is very common here, in a state of readiness. With a declining budget our competence is severely hampered, with dire consequences.
Peace, that which we are required to guarantee, is immeasurable. What it provides for ourselves and the African continent cannot be quantified. It is that without which it would not be possible for us to realise our development as a continent. We provide that, and for growth, we need to continue providing that, because it ensures our own sustainability. It is not a choice; it is a requirement, an obligation. I request hon members to consider this as we present the budget of the Defence Force.
We are of course acutely aware that we are in a recession, but we request that you assist us to stem the decline, because it is eroding our capacity. We are aware of the constraints of government, therefore we will propose a number of strategies that we will be putting in place to ensure that we are not an additional burden to the state. However, we cannot allow another decline and should not allow any further erosion from the Defence budget.
The second challenge we are faced with is perhaps our own shortcoming. For the past nine years or so the Auditor-General has given us qualified reports. This is a matter that concerns us, as I am sure it concerns you. We have immediately put steps in place to ensure we have the necessary capacity in our financial management to begin to produce different results, because we are keenly aware that it is only when we begin to effectively marshal our resources that we can get better returns.
To begin with, we have had to look at the structure of the Defence Force and its relationship to the Secretariat for Defence to see if we cannot have logical alignment there. We have had extensive discussions around this matter and the Deputy Minister has been asked to look into this. I chose the Deputy Minister because I thought that this is something that only a male logic can disentangle. [Laughter.] We would then have to move swiftly to fill the vacant position of CFO and ensure we can give all the necessary infrastructure support for this office. We must ensure that there is improvement in the current planning, management and monitoring of departmental spending, ensuring value for money for the Department of Defence.
Our third challenge is the defence industry. We are aware that we have not had outstanding performances in the defence industry, ie Armscor and Denel. We are paying particular attention to ensuring that the necessary management and governance is in place. I have on my table a report from the Portfolio Committee on Defence, dated 2008, indicating that the committee has looked at the matter of Armscor and made some very strong recommendations. I would like to ask for time to deal with the matters that have been raised in the report.
I have had occasion to meet with the chairperson of the board of Armscor and we have agreed that we need to deal decisively with a number of outstanding matters.
On the matter of Denel, we have to serve notice to hon members that we intend to negotiate Denel back into the ambit of the Defence Force. [Applause.] I have had discussions with the Minister of Public Enterprises and indicated that, at the very least, we need to embark immediately on a strategic realignment of Denel. Denel is a strategic security manufacturing asset for Defence and we would like to retain it as such. [Applause.]
I am aware that the defence industry requires an exhaustive interrogation. Both Armscor and Denel will be part of this, which must consequently extend to every sector of the industry. This should be conducted in a way that will subsequently produce effective command and control measures and effective turnaround.
The fourth challenge is an outdated Defence policy. We are embarking on a policy review to ensure that the Defence Force is in line with the lived reality of our democracy. We want to take on board what we have become and take into account new challenges facing us as a country and as a continent.
We have new obligations beyond our borders now. Our responsibility on the continent has become an important part of our foreign policy. A new policy review has to consider the logic that underpins the necessity of a force design of the SANDF that must be able to contribute appropriately to disaster relief, peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance as part of buttressing the project to consolidate democracy in countries that have recently emerged from conflict.
It is the realisation of this necessity that the department is developing a review document which will be distributed for comment once it is consolidated. The strategy focuses on the achievement of the mandate by having the required capabilities, as opposed to being a financially driven strategy.
Major changes have taken place in the defence environment over the past 15 years. The world has changed radically, forcing us to look at new approaches at doing things. The new environment requires of us new thinking about our place in it, our relevance to it and possibilities that are thrown up by this. Our approach will now have to give absolute priority to the economic development of our country and our value-add to our society.
Chairperson, we have identified the above challenges that we have elaborated and have worked out what we are we doing about them, for now.
The negative impact of the present economic situation on the country and the world is daunting. This has impacted negatively on government planning. However, I have learnt a few apt phrases with this economic situation and the one that strikes a chord with me, is “Let’s not waste a good crisis.” Let’s use it to think creatively about how we can turn it into an opportunity. For us as the Department of Defence, it offers us an opportunity to position ourselves to offer essential skills that will grow the economy.
The Defence Force is one of the best multidisciplinary training grounds you can find anywhere in the country. It is home to cutting-edge technology and research, be it in medicine, engineering and hydro, or space and meteorological research.
In a country bedevilled by skills shortages, it presents itself as one avenue that the nation can tap into. It is an equal opportunity provider to those who wish to advance themselves. It can provide all forms of skills imaginable. The programme of training and skills transfer that the Department of Defence can provide might prove to be the answer as we search for the formula of what makes for an efficient and capable state.
In rethinking our role in the economy, we would like to provide training for essential skills in the economy. We believe we can play a pivotal role in providing the bulk of this. In any country, the defence force is an institution where young people are given skills. We want to inject this into our society, because we have huge skills training capabilities and have tested this through our Military Skills Training Programme. We want to extend this to cater for various industries and government departments.
The Military Skills Training System aims to provide the SANDF with the military human resources required by the Defence mandate to empower the youth through training and development opportunities whilst serving in the Military Skills Development System, and to instill sound ethics and values of civic responsibility. It can form the department’s primary contribution to invest in the youth and to alleviate unemployment and poverty by preparing them for decent and rewarding careers. A positive outcome of the Military Skills Development System is that while the SANDF provides the skills, it takes the unemployed youth and provides them with discipline, civic education, character development and purposefulness, and infuses them with patriotism.
We wish to sell this concept of opening up our skills development for government departments and the private sector. A very good example of the skills that we have been able to provide over the years is the pilot training programme that we have had. SAA today is ranked as having the highest standard of aviation safety in the world. We would like to claim that this is in no small measure owing to the bulk of their pilots coming from the Defence Force. [Applause.]
This type of training allows us to provide continual service. The list of possibilities for government is endless – I just quoted SAA. What this does do is to allow the Defence Force to re-skill our youth, provide a spurt of energy into our economy and provide us with some revenue from the various departments we are servicing as a service provider, which means that our renewal can be taken care of by ourselves.
We are faced with huge unemployment, especially amongst the youth, a youth that could quite possibly be disgruntled, with no prospects of employment. We are the answer to that unemployed youth. We can increase our capacity, so that we can respond to the second most urgent challenge facing us in this country. [Applause.] If you want to deal with the issue of unemployment, think creatively about the Defence Force.
Chairperson, the matter of our support to the SAPS has raised concerns. Let me clarify: We have agreed with the justice, crime prevention and security cluster that we need to play a more active role in assisting the SAPS to deal with issues of crime. These are matters under discussion at the moment, against a backdrop of very clear legislative mandates that we are aware of.
What we have agreed to in principle, though, is the fact that the defence of our borders might need to remain in the hands of the Defence Force for some time. This will ensure that we can release the police to deal with crime inside the country. [Applause.] Our first protocol was signed by the President in 2008 and we will be working on this on an incremental basis.
We turn now to the soft underbelly of defence: its skills and human resource base. Like any other defence force around the world, the SANDF depends on men and women who have chosen to serve their country and its citizens. We are very proud of these officers who have distinguished themselves in the course of their duties as we celebrate 10 years of peacekeeping on the continent. Our contribution and professionalism can be attested to by the acknowledgement received from the African Union and the United Nations on the manner we have conducted ourselves during our deployment.
The creation of a dependable, agile and flexible human capital base remains my focus for the financial year. The high rate of skills migration and dearth of rare skills require the introduction of modern approaches for mobilisation and deployment of human capital, so as to accelerate the accumulation of specialised skills and retain these. The demand for a well-trained, multiskilled, disciplined and well-equipped defence force as a critical lever for the developmental agenda of government is a reality we cannot avoid.
The outflow of skilled technical personnel, engineers and combat personnel from the Department of Defence continues to lead to a reduction in the experience levels at units. Incentive schemes to mitigate this challenge have been introduced and are adjusted regularly in line with changing requirements. Further, we are exploring a strategy to address the retention of scarce skills within the Department of Defence.
I want to assure the Defence Force staff that their conditions of service are a concern to us. We are seized with the matter and I would like to engage each one of them through the proper management structures to see how we can attend to this. We are acutely aware that the state of readiness of the SANDF depends primarily on the morale of our soldiers.
Having assessed our options, we are considering making a request for a separate Department of Defence that would allow us to deal creatively with our own needs and specificities. There is a precedence to this in the creation of a special dispensation for the intelligence services. We would like to apply this to ourselves if it is possible. However, this would require some thought and further negotiation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Minister, you are left with one minute, unless you take your other time at the end.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Could you please give me my other time at the end. Thank you very much. And we can make up for the time that you were late. [Laughter.]
Chairperson, for now, I would like to confirm that for our personnel, the occupation-specific dispensation has been approved, has been budgeted for and should begin to have effect by the end of this month. [Applause.] I would like to thank all affected members for their patience over the delay in its implementation.
Finally, here is a good note to end my input. We have had a number of important successes, but we have done very little to boast about these. On 8 August 2009 we will be lowering the South African flag in Burundi, marking the end of our most successful deployment in Africa. [Applause.] Our mandate in Burundi expired in June 2009 after 10 years of peacekeeping in that country.
The SANDF helped end 15 years of civil strife in Burundi and today we are proud that peace has held together. [Applause.] We would like to take this opportunity again to thank the SA National Defence Force and the President, Mr Jacob Zuma, in particular, who played a pivotal role in negotiating peace for Burundi. We would like also to thank the former Minister of Defence, Mr Charles Nqakula, for the role he played in the continuation of these negotiations. [Applause.]
As we speak, all parties in that country have started campaigning for elections in a peaceful atmosphere, all because of our contribution. Nothing can be more fulfilling for the human spirit than the knowledge that we have saved lives and held a democracy together. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you, hon Minister. Yes, I agree with you that no vacuum should be allowed in the area of your deployment. But also generally in society, science allows no vacuum. I relied too much on the systems. I was waiting for the bells and the lights to flash, and nothing of that sort happened, until I was alerted that they were malfunctioning on this side. I hope it is a matter that they will fix during the recess.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: We have the necessary engineers.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The Minister is offering those services. Also, when I entered, indeed, I found hon Mike Ellis already waiting to take over. Unfortunately for him, he did not have the support of my foot soldiers here. So he would have walked alone. He stopped me and delayed me further by trying to say, “I have taken over”. Hon Ellis, you did not have support, unfortunately.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, thank you very much, but I do just want to say that I am sure I would do an excellent job in the Chair if you just gave me the opportunity. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): It would have created such consternation.
Mr M S BOOI / JE / END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Mr M S BOOI: Chairperson, I want to thank the Minister who is heading this department. I must say she is breathing fresh air into the department. She has taken on a lot of responsibility and dealt with a lot of what I wanted to talk about. I thought that through I would abandon speaking and said through you, Chairperson, let the Minister continue because she is really breathing hope into the department.
Mr M J ELLIS: Abandon it anyway!
Mr M S BOOI: No, I can’t abandon it, Mr Ellis. Can you stop talking, Mr Ellis? [Laughter.] You are not part of our portfolio committee. As the Minister said, we have very reliable people who have been deployed by various parties who are part of the portfolio committee.
The work the Minister has outlined and reflected on has been the collective work that we have been able to do in these few days, and I really want to congratulate the Minister on doing this as she comes in as Minister. Some of them are very new, Ellis. They don’t understand parliamentary procedures, but they have shown a willingness to take up the work that is confronting the SA National Defence Force.
I want to say to the Minister and Parliament itself that the collective that we have is a very reliable collective – very young people that are dynamic and thinking hard about what has to be done.
An Hon MEMBER: Very young people?
Mr M S BOOI: Yes, they are very young. You see, Minister, you like talking. I have Stella here; she is very young. And I have Maynier on that side who is also very young and who he is leading his delegation. The only person who I think is older than me is Tat’ uTolo. I also have Tat’ uMlangeni.
This is a good collective of people who have shown quite a lot of willingness and understanding in a very short period of time of the issues and challenges confronting the SANDF. The report they have been able to compile has been gone through thoroughly and everybody knows exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing.
Minister, we want to say to you again that we are quite concerned about the issue of the unions. I note that you did not say much about them. This is an issue we would like you to reflect on at some stage, because we do think that the way they handled one of your generals was not correct – not a way that we appreciated in the committee. We are looking for anyone who is in the Defence Force to find a way of working with us.
If you have a criticism of or a view on the conduct of the generals, talk to us. As Parliament, we would like to see how we could help you to overcome some of the problems – but not when you start going outside and shouting at them. As generals they are doing a very good job. You must realise that Parliament, as an institution, as people who have been voted in, we are quite confident of these generals.
We are saying to you that they have done a lot of good work up until now, and we are very impressed with the work they have done. So to insult them and to attack them, you are really calling on us to get down and tell you where we stand on this particular matter.
It would be very important, wherever the unions are, that they do accept the fact that we do understand and we are the ones who hold these particular generals accountable, and we are very impressed with the work they have been doing.
Madam Minister, the way you handled the issue of the military veterans was a test, and I knew that the committee wanted to see how you were going to approach that. We are behind you on the fact that you have created a task team. And we want to say to you and our own veterans: The Minister is very honest and very good. She does have integrity on what she has expressed around this particular development in the task team. We should all give her the necessary support in the time she is warranting. She has spoken to us about her own preparedness of being able to prepare and interacting with the different stakeholders.
We are going to have a session with the Deputy Minister, not the former one. There is a new one, Comrade George Mluleki. You were the former one. [Laughter.] We have a new Deputy Minister now. So, we are going to deal with that Deputy Minister. We are going to have a session with him to go through the detail of what the points of reference are for the task team itself.
We don’t want to hear just that there is a task team. We want to hear and understand what the capacity is of that particular task team. How is it going to be prepared? We know as a matter of fact that during this budget period they have not been able to put money aside for them to build up capacity so that they could have their administration properly sorted out.
Now, we want to hear from the Deputy Minister how prepared and how organised she is around this particular area. This is because one of the things that my colleague Comrade hon Dlodlo will be outlining - and I don’t want to take away from her speech - will be our own understanding of what Polokwane was and what that resolution means to all of us and to own former soldiers of uMkhonto weSizwe and Apla.
She will express herself and elaborate on that area very extensively, because she is one of those that laid down their lives. And she is one of those that left our country at a very young age and have made their own contribution in uMkhonto weSizwe.
So, I wouldn’t want to take away from her contribution at this particular moment because I said to her that I couldn’t match her contribution. I was in an SDU, a self-defence unit. She was a totally different calibre of soldier. We will give that responsibility to her to continue giving the views of the different soldiers on what they think about this particular area.
Madam Minister, around the issue of the declining Defence budget, we want to say to the country that we are not arrogant when we say, “Put every cent into Defence.” But there is lack of capacity. If you all say to us that we need to be able to build and to make sure that the defence of our country has the capability to defend the borders, make sure that you do give them the capacity. That’s all that they are appealing for.
They are saying this if you want them to assist with maritime issues, if you want them to have a better landward infrastructure. This is the area that we are going to deal with because landward-wise we are really suffering. Landward infrastructure is hurting us.
We are saying to you that you help us. That’s what the collective of our committee has said in that as long as the Minister is open to us and has an engagement that is more positive, we are quite willing to put a shoulder to the wheel and assist, but in humility, of not being arrogant but of being able to stand up to the challenge of saying what the issues are that are facing this particular department. That’s what they have said they would be willing to do as a collective that is prepared to work and assist the department itself.
Thank you, Minister, again for being able to clarify how the SAPS is going to relate to this particular area, because we were a little bit worried when we started getting different signals. We were quite worried and you informed us about how far ... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I now call the hon D J Maynier. I hope I have the correct pronunciation of your name, Mr Maynier. I understand this is your also your maiden speech.
Mr D J MAYNIER /TN
Mr M S BOOI
Mr D J MAYNIER: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, distinguished guests, I would like to begin by congratulating the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu as well as the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla on their appointments to the Cabinet.
I wish you both well as you tackle the many challenges facing the Defence Force, military veterans and the defence industry. I also hope that over the next five years we will work well together, and that we will tolerate not only different questions, but also different answers, always bearing in mind that we are putting the country first. I would also like to recognise and salute the many men and women who serve in our Defence Force and who have joined us here for the debate today. [Applause.]
Since this is my maiden speech in Parliament, I would like to make some brief remarks about my politics. My own political philosophy is, perhaps, best summed up by a quote taken from Helen Suzman, which reads:
I hate bullies. I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. They are indispensable elements in a democratic society and well worth fighting for.
I hope that I will have the courage to speak up for people who are hungry, to speak up for people who feel unsafe, to speak up for people who do not have shelter, and to speak up for people who are sick. But, above all, I hope I will have the courage to speak truth to power in this Parliament.
I was once a member of the defence force, serving as a submarine officer and a diver in the South African navy and, for that reason, I am committed to working for a defence force that recognises the supremacy of the Constitution, is under civilian control and accountable to Parliament, comprises a professional full-time Defence Force, backed up by a reserve force, and is disciplined, properly equipped, properly trained and properly funded.
We are here today to debate the appropriation of R32 billion for Defence and Military Veterans in the 2009-10 financial year. The central question before us is this: What effect will the billions of rand spent on defence have on the combat-readiness of the SA National Defence Force? And the short answer to that question is: We don’t know, because the Department of Defence will not tell us; or, perhaps more accurately, the Department of Defence will tell us but only on condition that we don’t tell you.
The Minister appears to be doing her level best to cover up the state of combat-readiness of the SANDF. We were told that the Department of Defence would not provide a briefing on the state of combat-readiness of the Defence Force, because the Minister had not been briefed. But now are told that the Department of Defence will not provide a full and open briefing on the combat-readiness of the Defence Force because it may compromise national security.
We can only wish for the kind of courage shown by British army head Gen Sir Richard Dannatt who recently declared:
I am going to stand up for what is right for the army. Honesty is what it is about. The truth will out. We have got to speak the truth. Leaking and spinning, at the end of the day, are not helpful.
We therefore appeal to the Minister to reconsider the Department of Defence’s approach to the question of a full and open briefing on the combat-readiness of the Defence Force.
This is a hard problem, but rather than take the easy road and hide behind the Defence Force’s favourite fig leaf: national security, let us take the hard road and grapple with and find a proper and responsible balance between secrecy and transparency. And let us do this, because in the words of one distinguished legal scholar, “A society that demonstrates no concern for this problem has ceased or is ceasing to be democratic.”
The Minister, the Deputy Minister, the Chief of the SA National Defence Force and the service chiefs could not find time to brief the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans. This amounted, in my view, to a false start, for the Department of Defence with the Fourth Democratic Parliament.
The Acting Secretary of Defence and Military Veterans, Tsepe Motumi, did, however, brief the committee, but was only able to introduce a draft strategic business plan for the Department of Defence. He was in an awkward position and was only able to make one and a half arguments in the briefing, namely that a task team would be set up on military veterans and, because he was anxious to avoid pre-empting the task team’s recommendation, no information would be available on military veterans; and, here comes the half argument: the Defence Force is underfunded, diminishing its capability to ... well, to share that information may compromise national security.
And what does this all mean? We are expected to support a R32 billion appropriation, but we are not allowed to know to what effect the money is spent. How then are we supposed to properly exercise our oversight role of the Defence Force? We are not sure.
We may not know all the details about the state of combat-readiness of the Defence Force. What we do know, however, is that the Defence Force is in deep trouble. We have soldiers without vehicles; we have ships without sailors; we have planes without pilots; and we have military hospitals without doctors. And the result? We have soldiers in barracks, not in the field; we have ships alongside, not at sea; and we have aircrafts in hangars, not in the air. We have an army that is overstretched; a navy that is understretched; and an air force with nothing to stretch. [Laughter.]
But, don’t listen to me. Listen to Brigadier-General George Kruys who was recently quoted as saying the following:
When making policy speeches, politicians showed no knowledge of the real state of the army. The malfunctioning of army vehicles during peacekeeping deployments in Africa is a common problem.
The situation is now apparently so bad that we must ask the question: Is the Defence Force, in fact, able to fulfil its constitutional mandate and defend and protect the Republic of South Africa? We have our doubts. How did this situation arise? The Department of Defence would have us believe that the problem is that the Defence Force is routinely underfunded, but the real problem with the Defence Force is not that it is underfunded; the real problem with the Defence Force is that it is underled.
The outcome of the last defence review, carried out more than 10 years ago, was deeply flawed. It was corrupted by vested interests in the Defence Force, defence industry and the ruling party, resulting in a force design that was simply not affordable. So, hard decisions have had to be made, but that is precisely what did not happen. Instead, the Defence Force was let down by politicians, most importantly a string of caretaker Defence Ministers, who for years dodged making the hard decisions about the future of the SANDF. And the result? Strategic drift and confusion.
This is nowhere better illustrated that the confusion surrounding the deployment of the Defence Force to protect our borders. We have an average of 3 024 soldiers deployed abroad per day, but only an average of 575 soldiers deployed at home per day. We appear to be more committed to keeping the peace abroad than keeping the peace at home. [Interjections.] The borders are simply not secure, making us all vulnerable to transnational crime.
Our 4 862-kilometre landward border is protected by 684 members of the SA Police Service. That is the equivalent of one police officer deployed per every seven kilometres of landward border. Our 2 798-kilometre maritime border is protected by an SAPS Armada comprising two 20-metre patrol vessels and nine rubber ducks. [Laughter.] But perhaps most shockingly, the SAPS plans to spend more in this financial year on VIP protection services: R380 million, than it does on borderline security: R225 million.
We spend more on bodyguards than on borderline security. We urge the Minister therefore to review the Defence Force’s strategic military objectives, and consider, together with her colleagues in the security cluster, permanently deploying the SA Defence Force to protect the borders in co-operation with the SAPS, and the Minister’s statement in this regard was welcome. [Applause.]
There is evidently a defence policy void which is wrapped up in an even bigger national security policy void. Over the past few years the Department of Defence has produced a deluge of “visioning documents”. We have the “Defence Strategy”; we have the “Defence Update”; we have the “Reserve Force Strategy”; we have the “South African Army Vision 2020”; and we have the “Human Resource Strategy 2010”; all of these being morphed, we believe, into the new “Defence Strategy 2025”. But none of these documents have ever seen the light of day, and, in my view, they amount to an attempt at a defence review by stealth - a defence review by the Department of Defence, for the Department of Defence taking place behind closed doors.
The last South African White paper on Defence was approved by the Cabinet in 1996, more than 10 years ago, and represented the defence policy of the Government of National Unity under former President Nelson Mandela. What we need is a new defence review which is conducted in an open and inclusive manner and which culminates in a new White Paper on Defence, Military Veterans and the Defence Industry.
We therefore challenge the Minister to table a Green Paper on Defence, Military Veterans and the Defence Industry in this House, and then let us begin a proper and open debate about the future of the Defence Force, Military Veterans and the Defence Industry in South Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr L J TOLO / /UNH / END OF TAKE
Mr D J MAYNIER
Mna L J TOLO: Modulasetulo, mokgatlo wa Cope o a kganya, o tlo bonegela Borwa bja Afrika. [Tšhwahlelo.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order, hon members! The speaker is on the floor. Just give him respect please!
Mna L J TOLO: Seo ke nyakago go se botša Moh Lindiwe Sisulu ke gore ke a mo tseba. Ke mo tseba go tloga ka 1994 ge a be a šoma le Kgoši Buthelezi, e le motlatši wa gagwe, gomme a šoma ka bokgwari. O bile Tona ya tša Bohlodi, gomme o be a šoma ka bokgwari. E be e le Tona yeo e bego e hlokometše bao ba se nago dintlo. O be a šoma gabotse. Lehono ke Tona ya mašole. Ye ke kgoro yeo e lego gore go ya ka puku Baahlodi, kgaolo ya bošupa, go tloga go temana ya 1 go ya go ya 24, e bontšha gabotse gore mašole a hlomilwe ke Modimo. Ka mantšu a mangwe, mašole ao a lego mo ke karabo ya Modimo go ya ka Bibele. Ke ao a re šireleditšego ka moka ga rena.
Se ke nyakago go se fa mmagorena ke maele, gomme o swanetše gore a hlokomele se. Ka moo ke go tsebago o le motho yo a šomago ka tshwanelo, ke kgopela gore o hlokomele Mbalula. A ka go ntšha tseleng [Disego.] Ke bolela se ka labaka la gore Mbalula o ile a tsena ka gare ga ofisi ya tša Polokego le Tšhireletšego a sa fihla - a na le dinao di khubedu – a re mašole e be wona a tlogo lwantšha bosenyi. Se ke ka lebaka la gore Mbalula ga a tsebe selo. Ge o ka ya le yena kudu, Moh Sisulu, a ka go ntšha tseleng. [Tšhwahlelo.] Ee, ba bangwe ba ka bolela gore ga go bjalo. Le maloba goba maabane o boletše mo a re: Ke le Mbalula, ga ke tsebe selo. O boletše ka tsela ya mohuta woo. Bjalo, ke rata go lemoša Moh Sisulu gore a hlokomele Mbalula ka gore a ka mo ntšha tseleng. [Disego.]
Tona, mašole a rena a bohlokwa. A šoma mošomo wa go šireletša maphelo a rena. A gona dinageng tše ntši tša Afrika; a gona ešita le mašoleng ao a pataganego a UN; gape a gona le go DRC le mafelong a mangwe kua go bo Sudan. A dira mošomo wo maatla gape wo o kwagalago. Mašole a rena a bohlokwa kudu e le ruri. Tumo ya rena re le ba Cope ke gore mogolo wa mašole - ga ke nyake gore o be kaone - o be godimo-godimo ka moo go swanetšego.
Seo re ikannego go se bontšha ke gore mašole a na le mohola. Modimo o ile a kgetha Gideon gomme a mo kgethela mašole a 32 000. Mo gare ga mašole a, o ile a ntšha a 22 000 gomme a boela morago ... [Tšhwahlelo.]
Adv T M MASUTHA: Chairperson, on a point of order: Is it parliamentary for the hon member to refer to another hon member simply as Mbalula? Isn’t it time that the hon member, given his experience in this House, address fellow members correctly? [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon member, it is true that you have to refer to another hon member as “honourable”.
Mna L J TOLO: Mohlomphegi, ke dumela gore ga a kwešiše Sepedi gabotse. Ke rile mohlomphegi Mbalula.
MODULASETULO WA NGWAKO (Mna K O Bapela): Mohlomphegi Tolo, ke tseba Sepedi. O be o sa re mohlomphegi. O be o no re Mbalula fela. Ka fao re re aowa, phošo e diragetše. E lokiše ge o dutše o tšwela pele ka polelo ya gago.
Mna L J TOLO: Ke le meditše lentšu leo.
Seo ke nyakago go se gatelela ke gore mašole a bohlokwa. Fela, seo re lego kgahlanong le sona re le ba Cope ke ka moo re bonago mokgatlo wo mongwe wa dipolitiki o šomago ka gona. Ga go na mokgatlo wa dipolitiki wo o ka hwetšago o keteka dikgopotšo ya wona o apare yunifomo yeo e nyakilego e swana le ya mašole ebile o swere le dithunya tša go swana le tša mašole ntle le ANC. Re lekile go nyakišiša ka ga se lefaseng ka bophara. Go ya ka rena re le ba Cope re re se ga se gabotse. Ga go na mokgatlo wa dipolitiki wo o ka hwetšago o keteka merero o apere yunifomo ye e swanago le ya mašole ebile o swere dithunya tša go swana le tša mašole. Le swanetše le sekaseke taba ye, Tona.
Ke gopola gore matšatšing ao a fetilego mo thelebišeneng - ke dumela gore le wena Tona o hlatse tabeng ye - go be go bontšhwa batho ba bangwe bao ba bego ba ipitša gore ke mašole, gomme ba re ba tla dira gore Kapa Bodikela e se laolege. Ga se tshwanelo gore leina la mašole le šomišwe ka mokgwa wo ka gore mašole ke bao ba re šireleditšego. [Magoswi.] Tona, o swanetše o e hlokomele taba ya mohuta wo. Ba ke bolelago ka bona ba, ba tla bona gore seo ke tlogo se bolela se tlo phethagala. Ba tlo se bona ka morago. Nna ke moruti. [Disego.] Se se fošagetše - batho ba eme thelebišeneng ba re ba tlo dira Kapa Bodikela gore e se laolege, gape ba bontšhwa ka yunifomo gore ke mašole. Ge e ele gore mašole a kgale a hwetša menyetla ditekanyetšong tša Kgoro ya tša Tšhireletšo, gona taba ye e swanetše gore e hlokomelwe ka mo go swanetšego.
Re le ba Cope, re re dilo tša go swana le tše di swanetše di phošollwe. Ka gona, Tona, rena re le ba Cope re re re a di thekga ditekanyetšo tša kgoro ya gago. [Tšhwahlelo.] [Nako e fedile.] [Magoswi.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE /END OF TAKE
Mr L J TOLO
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, the hon Tolo speaks very well. His speech reminded me of the election speech by Mr Maynier.
Hon Chairperson, on behalf of the IFP I want to congratulate the new Minister and Deputy Minister, and wish them well. We want to compare the Minister to her predecessor, hon Charles Ngcakula. We will eventually know who the best Minister is. But there’s something we already know: and that is that she is much more beautiful than old Charles. [Laughter.]
The hon Maynier referred to his service in the defence force and it brought back beautiful memories to me because I also served for 15 years in the citizen force. I did many camps and courses, and it feels again today as if I’m back in the family, seeing all the uniforms. I still have my uniform from 30 years ago, but it doesn’t fit me any more. [Laughter.]
An HON MEMBER: Was your rank sergeant?
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: My rank was that of a major and I did a commander’s course. What was yours? [Laughter.]
Fifteen years into democracy conditions have changed. And, in addition to defence, we are now also focusing on conflict prevention, peacekeeping and postconflict reconstruction commitments. But there are a few shortcomings that I want to refer to, and the Minister has dealt with most of them.
Firstly, we are concerned that not enough money has been allocated for the replacement of outdated military equipment.
Secondly, skills shortages in specific areas are a major threat to South Africa’s economic growth. Our Defence Force has been hard hit by the brain drain. In addition, we are losing large numbers of skilled personnel to other defence forces, notably to the UK and Australia.
The drain of skilled resources also has financial implications because large amounts are spent to train people and they then leave. We therefore urge the Minister, who has referred to this, to really look at good strategies to retain our skilled personnel.
Thirdly, the inclusion of military veterans in the Defence department is a contentious issue. It is the definition of a military veteran that concerns us. We believe that the current definition is too narrow and exclusive.
The act recognises sacrifices by military veterans in the service of our country and also the role they played in the democratisation process. However, it excludes some categories, for example members who once formed part of self-protection units, self-defence units and Azanla, the Azanian National Liberation Army .
The IFP believes that the definition of a military veteran should be reviewed to be inclusive in order to also contribute towards peace and nation-building.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Your time has expired, hon member. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I just want to wish the Minister well. May I do that?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Just do it.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: I wish you well, Madam. [Applause.]
Ms A DLODLO / ARM keh (Sep checked) / END OF TAKE
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE
Ms A DLODLO: Hon Chairperson, hon Members of Parliament, hon Minister: a veteran of umKhonto weSizwe, hon Deputy Minister: another veteran and commissar of MK, commanders and commissars of MK sitting on the gallery, fellow compatriots, wars have been fought and many a battle lost, but for any soldier there is no better reward than winning the war and getting recognition for the efforts of those engaged.
I will dedicate my input to those progressive men and women of the liberation forces, especially MK, amasotsha ka Luthuli ...
An HON MEMBER: Yebo!
Ms A DLODLO: ... who fought the apartheid regime in and out of South Africa valiantly, and to the fighting women of MK who were dubbed the flowers of the revolution by the late President O R Tambo. I will further dedicate this to the comrades who died in battle in the Eastern and Northern Fronts of Angola, fighting with Unita - União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola - in defence of our camps and the villagers that hosted our forces.
I also dedicate this input to the people of Algeria and China who trained the initial groups of the Luthuli Detachment; to the people of the former Soviet Union and the former German Democratic Republic and other Eastern Bloc countries who not only gave us military hardware, but also the skills in the strategy and tactics of war; to the people of Angola who opened their country to us in the middle of their own civil war sponsored by Apartheid South Africa and those countries opposed to peace; to the people of Zimbabwe under Joshua Nkomo who made it possible for us to share the battlefield with them and steeled our cadres.
This input, Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, recognises the youth of this country that has never appreciated injustice and intolerance, a youth that knows what is good for humanity and when change is necessary - from 1652 when the colonisers hit our shores, to Polokwane.
Polokwane brought to the marginalised liberation fighters a sense of recognition and a reminder of where we come from as a nation. [Applause.] Though Polokwane resolved that a Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans should be established and called for the speedy launch of the SA National Military Veterans’ Association, Sanmva, with this new reconfigured Ministry we lost the battle but we won the war - metaphorically speaking, that is.
Represented in the gallery today is the leadership of the SA Military Veterans’ Association, the glorious MK and Apla ex-combatants, and those who fought in the Wankie and Sipolilo battles, including Ntate Ike Maphoto ... [Applause.] ... those who fought in Malanje, Bonteheuwel, Soweto, Mamelodi, eMlazi and many other corners of Southern Africa. They come here, hon Minister, as veteran prisoners of hope.
’n AGB LID: Jy weet niks!
Ms A DLODLO: They come here to hear what you have in store for them to liberate them from poverty, despair and dejection.
They come here, hon Minister, trusting that you would unveil to them programmes that will restore their dignity and those that fell in war. Minister, this is a sector of our society that has faith in you, more so that you too are a military veteran and that, at last, we are led by a politician and her deputy who come from the military. [Applause.] Represented here are men and women who have been shown recognition by this Minister when she was the Minister of Housing in the previous administration. Look what MK has produced.
It is always good to remind people where we come from for them to understand what we are about - that South Africa was at war, something that we seem to have conveniently obliterated from our history. This war was waged against a people by a regime whose policy was declared a crime against humanity by the world and the international community in the progressive world.
There were those young men, women and children of the 60s, 70s and 80s generation who took on the mighty apartheid regime head on, and left South Africa to learn the skills of war in order to return and fight the enemy to liberate its people. Most of them were very young, with no matric, but armed with a patriotic qualification – the love for our people. [Applause.]
Some of the combatants whose military and other contributions are being recognised with the elevation of the Directorate of Military Veterans to the level of a Ministry, fought in the 1967 Wankie military operation where MK combatants were determined to reach deeper into the then Rhodesia and eventually enter South Africa. Again, Ntate Maphoto, you represent that glorious generation. [Applause.]
Comrade Lambert Malloy, sitting in the podium as well, you represent the leadership of MK that brought about the changes that we experience today. [Applause.]
uMkhonto weSizwe was an armed formation whose mission was to pursue a guerrilla war against the apartheid forces in defence of the oppressed people, while at the same time supporting the political programme of the ANC. In fact, the emergence of this guerrilla army occurred after a long political struggle of the ANC since its formation, a political struggle which assumed different forms at different times.
During the period between its formation and the emergence of MK, political activities were peaceful. However, the firing at and killing of unarmed and peaceful demonstrators in Sharpeville ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): One minute left.
Ms A DLODLO: Oh, that can’t be. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
Ms A DLODLO: No, I will not.
An HON MEMBER: What a lecture!
An HON MEMBER: Talk about the budget!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, order!
An HON MEMBER: You don’t know what you’re talking about!
An HON MEMBER: Let her be. Let her be!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, the speaker can’t continue whilst you’re interrupting.
Ms A DLODLO: The exodus from the SA National Defence Force of most of our comrades had very little to do with discipline, but with the inability of the system to prepare for the effective integration of a group of people with the kind of war baggage that MK soldiers brought with them.
The intolerance of our commanders in the SANDF meant that they were not appreciative of the mental or post-war trauma of the people they were leading. This increased their problems of families with these unemployed returnees who suddenly added economic pressure on the families that were themselves struggling to make ends meet.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon member, your time is up.
Ms A DLODLO: Minister, Deputy Minister, I hope you will heed the call to look after our people. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr P J GROENEWALD /END OF TAKE
Ms A DLODLO
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek wil die agb Minister en Adjunkminister gelukwens met hul aanstellings. Ek ken hulle; ons kom al vanaf 1994 saam in hierdie Parlement. Ek weet hulle beskik oor die vermoë, maar ek wil vir hulle sê hulle het besondere uitdagings wat vir hulle voorlê.
Agb Minister, 31 Maart 2009 was die amptelike datum waarop alle kommando-eenhede in Suid-Afrika uitgefaseer is. Die vorige president, President Thabo Mbeki, het by die ontbinding van kommando’s gesê dat daar nie ’n vakuum in die landelike beveiliging mag ontstaan nie. En ons weet almal dit hét ontstaan. Selfs in Woensdag se debat het die Minister van Polisie gesê daar is ’n krisis-situasie, want misdadigers pleeg misdade in stede en dan wyk hulle na die platteland uit.
Ek wil vandag vir u vra dat een van u uitdagings sal moet wees om te kyk of ons weer daardie landelike beveiliging kan herstel. Die kommando’s was ’n goedkoop en effektiewe manier om Suid-Afrika te beveilig binne die bepalings van die grondwet en die taak van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag. Ek vra heroorweging daarvan.
’n AGB LID: Netjies!
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek kom ook by ander uitdagings en ek wil vir die agb lede sê dat ons al die afgelope drie jaar hoor dat die gevegsgereedheidsgrondslag van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag in ’n krisis is. Ons kry daardie voorligtings. Ek wil vandag vir u sê dat een van die groot redes ’n finansiële tekort is. Ek het dit verlede jaar ook in my debat gesê.
Die regering van die dag moet besluit of ons nog ’n nasionale weermag wil hê of nie. As ons sê ons wil ’n weermag hê, agb Minister, dan moet ons vir die regering van die dag sê om vir ons die geld te gee om dit te kan doen. Miljarde rande is gespandeer aan nuwe wapentuig, wat al die politieke partye in hierdie Parlement ondersteun het - die DA, ook.
Almal het gesê dis reg; ons moet nuwe wapentuig aankoop. Ons sit met gesofistikeerde wapentuig, byvoorbeeld drie duikbote waarvan skaars een operasioneel is. Ons sit met ongeveer 24 Hawk-vliegtuie. Ons gaan 26 Grippen-vegvliegtuie kry, wat van die hoogs gesofistikeerde vegvliegtuie is wat bestaan. En ek wil konsentreer op die lugmag. Ek wil vir die agb Minister sê dat daar wel mense is wat uit die weermag gaan as gevolg van regstellende aksie. Ek dink die tyd het gekom dat ons vir mekaar moet sê dat Suid-Afrika sy beste manne en vroue moet hê wat die werk kan doen. Ons moet die beste van die bestes kry. Kom ons raak kleurblind as ons mense aanstel om ’n werk te doen.
En dit ís so dat daar vlieëniers is wat die land verlaat as gevolg van salarisse, ensovoorts, maar ek wil vandag vir die agb Minister sê dat een van die grootste redes waarom vlieëniers die land verlaat weens die feit is dat hulle nie genoeg tyd kry om te vlieg nie. Daar is nie genoeg geld om genoeg brandstof te kry om hierdie vlieëniers te laat vlieg nie. Agb Minister, ’n vlieënier wil vlieg. Hy sal vir ’n kleiner salaris vlieg, maar hy wil vlieg.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon member, your time has expired.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Daarom sê ek vir u: kry die beste van die bestes om die werk te doen! Ek dank u. [Applous.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you, hon member. Hon the Deputy Minister ...
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Mnr die Voorsitter ...
Chairperson, did you give me three minutes or two minutes?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Two minutes.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: No, I’ve got three minutes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I was not alerted to that.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): No, no, it has to be the table, not you. They say they gave you three minutes. It was indeed three minutes.
Mr P J GROENEWALD: What’s going on with the Chair today, Chairperson? It seems there’s some disorientation there.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): No, not at all. They said they have already given you the three minutes. You have exhausted it.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Right, I’ll continue. You can add another minute for me, so you give me four minutes now? [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): No, no, I’ll give you half a minute to conclude.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, wat ek wil sê is kom ons kry die beste van die bestes en dan moet ons ook kyk na ons opleidingstandaarde. In 2005 is daar ’n Astra-vliegtuig wat in Lichtenburg geval het. Die verslag het getoon die vlieënier was ’n grensgeval. Hy het byvoorbeeld verdwaal. Dit was die verklaring in die amptelike ondersoek, want toe ons gaan kyk na sy eksamens, sien ons hy het spesifiek sy navigasie gedruip en hy moes dit herhaal. As ons sê ons wil die beste van die bestes hê, moet ons ook ons standaarde daarstel om die bestes te kry. Dank u.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The 30 seconds is over. Hon member, thank you very much.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS / SN/ END OF TAKE
Mr P J GROENEWALD
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is an inspiration to participate in the budget debate of our country’s defence establishment today. It has been several years since I was weaned off this sector where my political life actually evolved and where I cut my teeth as an exuberant backbencher in Parliament.
The challenges this budget seeks to address are themselves evidence of how far the Department of Defence has come since the pioneering work of its early post-1994 era, which laid the foundation for our contemporary defence establishment, as the Minister has already commented.
I wish to pay tribute to the many public servants, both in Parliament and the executive, who have all contributed to bringing us this far, including hon member Mr Groenewald who I see is still very passionate about matters of defence.
Our debate today heralds the beginning of yet another five-year span to advance, build and develop our country’s defence establishment to realise the resolve of South Africans, as individuals and as a nation, to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want, and to seek a better life in an even more sophisticated way.
We are discussing this government’s responsibilities buoyed up by the overwhelmingly fresh mandate the ruling party received from the electorate which was spurred by the attitude that together we can do more. In this context, we must, in line with the 10 priorities of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, strengthen engagement with society by promoting public participation and engagement with civil society on defence matters and international co-operation.
To this end, it is the desire of the Minister to ratchet up the overall communication of the Department of Defence and the public to bring an end to the era in which defence and military affairs were instinctively treated with suspicion and cynicism by the public - to make defence matters the business of all citizens and the Department of Defence a centre of excellence and an employer of choice for our young citizens.
The hon member Nomsa Madikizela-Mandela could not have articulated this better during the debate on the President’s Vote when she said in the Chamber:
We owe it to the masses; it is about giving our people real control over their lives. It is about ensuring that the electorate steers the body politic and not be reduced to mere passengers or spectators in the unfolding processes.
Indeed, our movement has consistently striven to defy the political elitism in which politics becomes a matter for professionals. Our people should not be reduced to mere voting fora and be treated as though they are incompetent to shape the content and direction of our democratic project.
As the Minister has already mentioned, the most important project of the Department of Defence in the next five years is the elaboration of the new defence strategy - a long-term view that must guide our defence function over the next 20 years, based on a review of the status quo. This involved exercise will do a fresh appraisal of the strategic environment and its implications for our defence. This will address, among other things, our defence posture in the context of collective defence strategies and the capabilities we therefore require.
At a more pressing level, the building and consolidation of our defence function is going to require the sustaining and escalating of improvements in and around management practices, as noted by the Auditor-General. The Minister is committed to observing the Medium-Term Strategic Framework priority of ensuring that all government departments receive unqualified audit reports by 2014.
There can be no excellence in the Department of Defence if we do not involve best-management practices, because the Department of Defence is the biggest establishment of government departments. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is a state within a state. It is in control of enormous resources and assets. It also manages the biggest budget and the most extensive procurement function.
The Minister is committed to sanitising all procurement activities of all kinds to ensure ethical conduct, transparency and integrity. This will go a long way in freeing up opportunities for the benefit of all citizens in keeping with official policies.
Over the past decade and a half, we have seen the development of several new policies that are aimed at positioning the Department of Defence to best deliver on its mandate. Our focus in this second decade is to ensure that there is full and effective implementation of those policies that have been seen to work and to review and refine those that have not. Our mission remains unchanged, but our strategies must always be responsive to changing circumstances. The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans pledges this commitment to embrace the priorities of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework of government over the next five years.
Our main objectives in this regard remain to enhance and maintain comprehensive defence capabilities to safeguard the people of South Africa and to promote peace, security and stability in the region and the continent as a whole. This encompasses the development of landwark forces, maritime and air defence systems by having the required capabilities. A well-maintained defence capability will immensely enhance South Africa’s role in promoting democracy and prosperity on the continent.
To realise this objective, we must ensure that a mandate-driven force design and force structure are realised. This is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. It is for the realisation of this necessity that the department is developing the Defence Strategy 2010 to 2030 as a document providing a comprehensive and cogent strategic argument for this endeavour, as the Minister commented earlier.
Equally driving the need to update South Africa’s defence policy is the increased obligation to contribute to stabilising parts of the African continent. Subsequently, the growing utilisation of the SA National Defence Force in peacekeeping on the continent has compelled a review of the distinction between primary and secondary functions. In short, there is a need to strike the right balance regarding peace missions to give peacekeeping its correct place in the roles and functions of the SA National Defence Force.
However, the insufficient budget of the SA National Defence Force, as the Minister has already commented, continues to be cause for concern. In nominal terms, the budget allocation has increased from R10,9 billion in 1994 to R32 billion in 2009-10. During this period, the Defence budget was augmented with funding for peace-support operations and the rejuvenation of the prime mission equipment of the SA Air Force and the SA Navy. The peace-support operations budget allocation for the current financial year stands at R969 million. Given the current economic climate, our Defence budget has not increased substantially in real terms, thereby eroding the purchasing power of Defence operating funds. The Defence budget allocation has decreased from 4,6% of GDP in 1994 to a projected meagre 1,2% of GDP in the current financial year. This is further demonstrated by the fact that the Defence budget allocation has declined from 7,9% of total government spending in 1994 to a projected 3,8% of the estimated total government spending in the current financial year.
The economic situation in the country and the world does not make things easy for all of us but we cannot compromise the security of our country and the continent. Our Defence capabilities can therefore not be allowed to be compromised by the budgetary constraints experienced by all of us. Together, with members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, we hope that we can come up with innovative ideas to ensure that we will keep the SA National Defence Force in a state that is commensurate with its obligations.
The skills revolution agenda remains a key driver of the Department of Defence’s contribution to our country’s socioeconomic development priorities. We continue to maximise the enlisting of the youth in technical careers within the Defence sector through various initiatives, such as the Military Skills Development System, a project that the Minister has already referred to, as currently implemented by the services of our National Defence Force. An effort to profile the Military Skills Development System as a sustainable skills generator for government will be pursued through partnerships and collaboration with other organs of state, as the Minister mentioned when she tabled our budget this morning. This forms part of our primary contribution to invest in the youth and to alleviate unemployment and poverty by preparing them for decent and rewarding careers in the SANDF. Also high on our agenda is the revitalisation of the reserves, with more than 22 000 volunteers forming the reserve of which 70% is from designated groups.
The Department of Defence has highlighted the requirement for the improvement of the quality of life of military veterans. To that end, the department has played a pivotal role towards the establishment of a single veterans’ association, the SA National Military Veterans’ Association. Their president is on the gallery this morning.
Furthermore, the department is in the process of configuring itself into a vehicle that will drive the new responsibilities as promulgated by the Commander-in-Chief and President of the Republic. As a precursor to this, the Minister has appointed new members, as Parliament is aware, to the Advisory Committee on Military Veterans which will undoubtedly contribute to the way forward in this immense task. This vehicle that would be created will ensure that an effective and efficient system is in place to provide the required support to military veterans.
The task team appointed by the Minister has already started to work. What is evident is that we are responsible for a huge politically sensitive and diverse constituency which must be diligently disaggregated in order to be efficient in addressing its needs. Secondly, both in policy and organisational interventions, we must be alive to the need to craft our solutions for these problems with a long-term view. However, we need urgently to deal with the dire needs of military veterans.
Becoming an employer of choice remains a key tenet of our vision. Thus the Department of Defence will continue to develop an adequately resourced, skills-based performing, disciplined and reliable workforce. This will be evident in the various programmes, notably among others the Department of Defence’s work regiment that seeks to provide target training of identified projects to maintain and renovate the facilities of the Defence Force. This could be linked with other government departments, like the Department of Public Works, in the maintenance of buildings.
Our plans and initiatives will be supported by a robust plan for monitoring and evaluation aimed at establishing and sustaining an information bank to evaluate the department as a whole. A sharper focus will be given to the strengthening of the norms and standards to improve the levels of accountability, a function which is located primarily within the administration programme. Such interventions will see the further development of systems, processes and frameworks aimed at creating sustainable monitoring and evaluation that provides for sufficient accountability regarding the funding received from government.
Chairperson, hon members, there is no doubt that the next five years will see the emergence of new challenges within the defence environment, but my Minister and I are excited at the opportunity of being part of the team that has been fielded to do duty in the service of our country. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr A MLANGENI / END OF TAKE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Mr A MLANGENI: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, Mr Maynier from the DA wants to know about the combat-readiness of the SA National Defence Force. By that he means he wants to know how many men and women we have in the army. He wants to know how many weapons we have in the army. He wants the public, including those who may be enemies of South Africa, to have that information. [Applause.]
We told him in the portfolio committee that he was asking for impossible information. We are not going to give that information to you. It is what I call “classified information”. [Applause.] You will get certain pieces of information from the army, but not everything, not classified information. No country in the whole world will tell you how many men and women they have in their army. Forget about it. [Interjections.]
Hon Tolo, I was a member of one of commanders of uMkhonto weSizwe. I still have my uniform and my boots. I invite you to come and inspect my body when I die. You will find it wrapped in an army uniform similar to that one. I’m not going to throw it away. [Applause.]
Having said that, the Department of Defence - I’m sorry about my voice - is competing for funds from the Treasury against many other departments. This means that it is not possible to receive the full amount requested. The present world economic meltdown is making matters worse.
Nevertheless, our men and women in uniform have to do what they must do, namely be ready to defend and protect our country and its people with the limited funding received from the Treasury. Although much has been said about veterans and the fact that a task team has been established, I nevertheless still want to say something about military veterans.
In the foreword to the strategic business plan for 2009-10, the hon the Minister of Defence wrote:
Veterans have become part and parcel of the organisation and of everything we do as we design, implement and sustain programmes that serve them. It must be the mission of the DOD to address their needs all the time, across the full range of support services that our Government has committed to providing to them ... that the lives of our veterans and those of their families are improved, and that these individuals are further recognised for their contribution to ensuring that a democratic South Africa is realised.
In terms of the Defence Act of 1999, a military veteran is a person who fought in World War One and World War Two and also, to some extent, in the Korean tensions of 1952. The Act includes those men and women who fought against the policy of apartheid, some of whom sacrificed with their own lives. Some were killed in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and others here at home. Some of those who survived these wars of liberation were not integrated into the SANDF when hostilities stopped. It is those comrades, these military veterans and their families, who are of great concern to me and I’m sure to many of you.
One of the resolutions of the Polokwane conference states that a presidential commission on military veterans should be established in the government, and that a comprehensive social package for all ex-combatants of former liberation armies be introduced by the state by the end of 2008. I’m not sure whether this resolution has been implemented.
The Defence Act was passed 10 years ago, and, we are told that although discussions have been ongoing in the Department of Defence, the Treasury pointed out during a briefing that there has been no written request from the Department of Defence for funds to be set aside for military veterans. In other words, there has never been any budget left ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): One minute left, hon member.
Mr A MLANGENI: Let me cut my speech and say that some of the people died in foreign lands and are buried in those countries and some died here at home. Those who survived the hostilities and were not integrated into the SANDF have been forgotten. Their families are suffering.
It is however heartening to learn that discussions are going on between the Department of Defence and the government of Uganda about our comrades whose bones were buried there in order to repatriate them to our country for reburial. We wish them success with their good intentions.
Lastly, in this world of uncertainties, we must never allow our Defence Force to be weak. It must always be well equipped and be ready for any eventuality. [Applause.] Working together we can do more. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Hon member, your time is over.
Mr A MLANGENI: The ANC supports the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
Mr L N DIALE
Mr A MLANGENI
Mr L N DIALE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, hon chairperson of the committee, hon Members of Parliament and comrades, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and greet the glorious army, the SA National Defence Force, led by the Chief of the Army Gen Ngwenya.
Ke a le dumediša, bagešo.
In 1955 the people of South Africa - black and white - converged in Kliptown and produced the Freedom Charter, a historic document which would guide the struggle for liberation of the oppressed majority in South Africa. The Freedom Charter serves as a blueprint for democratic South Africa. Hence, the Constitution of the Republic reflects the aspirations and demands of those who converged in Kliptown in 1955. [Applause.]
It is this historic document which talks of the army and police that would be the protectors and helpers of the people in a democratic South Africa. In making them the protectors and helpers of the people, we have to ensure that members of the Defence Force acquire the necessary skills which will make them effective in protecting and helping the people.
Because of the gender imbalances created by the system of colonialism and apartheid, the starting point for the ANC had to be transformation of the race and gender composition of the Defence Force. The ANC undertook the transformation of the Defence Force to reflect the national and gender composition of South African society. Hence, we require recruitment, training and promotions to assist in changing the national and gender composition of our force.
Over the past 15 years strides have been made in this regard. We made advances knowing that for the SA National Defence Force to be an accessible defence force to all the people of South Africa, it has to be representative of the population demographics of the whole society.
Addressing these issues of race and gender means a step in the right direction in realising the objectives of the national democratic revolution, a vehicle chosen by the majority of South Africans to take them to an ideal society in which they want to live. Therefore, recruitment and training programmes for the Defence Force must contribute to the process of resolving the societal contradictions that were created by the system of colonialism and apartheid.
At its Stellenbosch conference, the ANC resolved to ensure that training programmes were designed especially to target women and young people, and it also undertook to ensure the acceleration of re-skilling, development and integration of military veterans.
Even the Polokwane conference pronounced itself on this important matter. The resolutions of this historic conference require us to ensure that all government departments adopt programmes directed at skilling, training and integrating military veterans.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): One minute left, hon member.
Mr L N DIALE: Internal and external deployments require us to acquire more scarce skills. However, going forward, the retention of existing skills and the to-be-acquired scarce skills require the serious attention of the government.
We are happy to note that the SANDF continues to use state facilities, but these facilities must meet minimum standards. Therefore, funding is required for the maintenance and repair of these facilities to meet minimum requirements. The ANC supports this budget. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Yes, I know that the issue of time is done by the programming Whips. It’s not me; I’m just an adjudicator here.
Mr S T NDABENI /Nb/nvs / END OF TAKE
Mr L N DIALE
Ms S T NDABENI: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, comrades and friends, the primary objective of the Defence Force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.
The ANC believes that national and regional security should not be restricted to military, police and intelligence matters, but also have political, economic, social and environmental dimensions.
Underdevelopment, poverty, lack of democratic participation and the abuse of human rights are regarded as grave threats to the security of our people. Since these invariably give rise to conflict between individuals, communities and countries, they threaten the security of state as well. National and personal security shall be sought primarily through efforts to meet the social, political, economic and cultural needs of our people.
The security policy objectives should encompass the consolidation of democracy, the achievement of social justice, economic development, a safe environment, and a substantial reduction in the levels of crime, violence and political instability. Stability and development are regarded as inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing.
At international level, the objectives of security policy include the defence of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the South African state and the promotion of regional security in Southern Africa.
Hon Maynier, the Defence Force is bound by international law treaties and conventions governing the use of force and the conduct of war. The view of our apartheid predecessors when it came to national security was primarily through military and paramilitary means. The effects of this approach to security are evident: high levels of violence, economic decline, regional arms races, destabilisation and perpetual insecurity throughout the subcontinent.
It was reported at the beginning of this year that South Africa had become the trafficking capital of the world. Even though this was reported, it is also apparent that many criminals and illegal operations have been discovered and combated.
Investing in the security of our country had already begun when the government bought arms to address this matter. When a British naval ship visited our country at the beginning of this year, we had an opportunity to test the capacity of one of our submarines in Cape Town waters, and the submarine managed to pass under the ship without detection. This exposed the weakness of the British ship and showed the strength of our defence in dealing with any situation. [Applause.]
Our intelligence services, Police Service and Defence Force are, indeed, a beacon of the country’s security. Political, economic and international relations are a helping factor in maintaining peace and securing regional stability.
Cognisance needs to be given to the allocation of this budget. It must be increased to serve the purpose of intensifying and tightening the screws in those areas in which we are lacking.
Border control, SA National Defence Force patrol and roles played by other structures are of significant importance in preventing organised crime, transnational crime, human trafficking and so on. “Working together we can do more” suggests that we must not go solo in addressing matters of peace and security.
The joint committee report of 2007 showed that the oversight role of Parliament as an organ of the people needs to be strengthened and sustained. The ANC is, therefore, committed to collective wisdom and integrated approaches in ensuring the security of our people, the region and the continent. Without a doubt, we need this budget to advance the cause of the SANDF and military veterans. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I now call the hon J R B Lorimer. I understand that this will be his maiden speech.
Mr J R B LORIMER
Ms S T NDABENI
Mr J R B LORIMER: Chairperson, it’s time we started using the SANDF for the purposes for which it was intended. It should not be a blank cheque to pay off political constituencies, as has been done for the past 15 years. It should be there to serve all South Africans in doing what it is best suited to do.
I’ll give you an example. The most expensive programme in this budget is Air Defence. That’s because we are paying the bulk of the cost of the BAe/Saab - British Aerospace/Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget - contract as the Gripen fighters get delivered. Let us not forget that this contract was more expensive than similar deals done by BAe with Australia and India, and was more that half as much, again, as the price of the option first selected by the Air Force. This has been one of the worst examples of the Defence budget being used for purposes other than defence.
There are three military strategic objectives set out in the Department of Defence Strategic Business Plan for 2009. They are: to enhance and maintain comprehensive defence capabilities; to promote peace, security and stability in the region and on the continent; and to support the people of South Africa.
So, before we are asked to vote on the spending of R32 billion, it’s incumbent on us to ask whether those objectives are being achieved. What then are our defence capabilities? How prepared are we? Who knows? Maybe the Minister knows, but she’s not letting us know. For us not to have been briefed on force preparedness before this Budget Vote debate, Minister, is unconscionable.
The Minister has raised the issue of whether or not such a briefing should be held in private - as the department wants - safe, we are told, from the ears of South Africa’s enemies. Minister, I don’t buy your argument. Any hostile power that had to wait for a parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence briefing to decide where our weaknesses lay would not be an enemy to be concerned about. [Laughter.]
If the SANDF was prepared, it would not be afraid to say so. It is clear that we don’t have enough pilots. Minister, is the fact that we are losing them to South African Airway a good thing? I don’t think so. Our pilots don’t have enough flying hours; our vehicles work only 50 to 60% of the time; our forces don’t have enough ammunition; we have a third of the reserves we should have.
But this government wants to hide from voters their lack of defence leadership, and so it uses national security as a spurious pretext to hide the truth from South Africa’s people.
On the second criterion, peacekeeping, it is a pass with distinction, but at what cost? Our original force design was for one battalion‑strength peacekeeping operation at a time. We have three. That’s reduced SANDF capacity. Joint Operations Chief Lieutenat‑General Themba Matanzima says that the return of the troops from Burundi will be very welcome because the military feels overstretched.
Some good peacekeeping work has been done. But it should stop here. We are pleased the Burundi deployment will be ended. But we urge strongly that it not be replaced with any new mission. Those troops need to return home to boost our capabilities here, to retrain and to see their families. Peacekeeping should be about regional stability and not about grandiose continental posturing, which you are good at.
On the third criterion: support for the people of South Africa, you have heard about the lack of borderline security. On rural security, the closing of commandos has not been replaced by any police capability.
The Institute for Security Studies’ work on the impact of the closing down of commandos says that “The extent to which the police have filled this gap varies from virtually nothing to only partial implementation”. And, “The most worrying aspect is that commandos were closed down even in places where no substitute was in place.” So who is protecting our villagers, our farmworkers, our farmers? Nobody.
All these problems - border security, rural security, reserves, materiel - are not the result of some military failure. They are the direct result of poor political decision‑making.
But, Minister, you have an opportunity now to make a decisive break from the past.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): One minute left, hon member!
Mr J R B LORIMER: You can deliver direction through a Green Paper; you can ensure that the Defence budgets are adequate; you can ensure that arms procurement is done according to the needs of the Defence Force and not for the benefit of cronies; you can revisit the idea of a proper territorial reserve force that can assist with both borderline control and rural security; and, most of all, Minister, you can stop the Defence budget being used to fund elections or pay off political constituencies.
The ball is in your court. We watch with interest how you will play it. [Applause.]
Mr C L GOLOLO / END OF TAKE
Mr J R B LORIMER
Mr C L GOLOLO: Chairperson, officials from the department, Members of Parliament, military veterans in the gallery, ladies and gentlemen, let me thank you all for attending this very important debate in which, in my maiden speech, I will focus mainly on the strengthening of Defence peacekeeping assistance in Africa and the diaspora within the constraints of Budget Vote 19.
Let me take this opportunity and congratulate the hon Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla on their appointments. We wish them well, and we look forward to working together.
Let me first come to the issue raised by Mr Maynier on the state of readiness. I know that you always raise this matter in the portfolio committee. Let me just allay your fears by saying that South Africa is not under any threat whatsoever at the moment. As a matter of fact, we are a friendly nation. We have made many friends across the world unlike the previous regime that was very worried about combat-readiness because of the enemies that it created. [Applause.]
Let me render my support for this budget. President Jacob Zuma mentioned in his state of the nation address recently that we, as a nation, have committed ourselves to local, regional and international peace and development. We, as a nation, have committed ourselves to international law, sovereignty and multilateralism - that our country is part of the world of nations.
Most importantly, we have committed ourselves to building peace and friendship with progressive forces and the world as the Freedom Charter clearly stipulates. It is absolutely for this reason that more financial resources need to be allocated to this very important department, which has the huge task of ensuring that not only are the above commitments met, but also that all human resources within the Defence Force, namely Air Force personnel, landward defence personnel, military health support, maritime defence, administration, force employment and defence intelligence, are effectively dealt with.
With the reconfiguration of the Department of Finance in terms of military veterans, I want to call upon the National Treasury to ensure efficient allocation of funds to ensure the welfare of those men and women who not only contributed to this new democratic dispensation which we all enjoy today, but who are also heroes and heroines of our revolution.
It is a known fact that SA National Defence Force participation in peacekeeping operations continues to bring about hope in the region and the continent. The current situation has also resulted in some operations far exceeding the initial anticipated level of involvement.
As a result, the department has to maintain a sense of balance between preparing for defending the country and its people and increasingly getting involved in peace operations. This has had an adverse effect on the ability of the SA National Defence Force to maintain and sustain certain capabilities due to budget constraints. It must be noted, though, that the gap between the Defence policy, the allocated budget, the recurring reprioritisation of activities and the reallocation of funds inevitably has a detrimental effect on the functioning of the Department of Defence and the combat-readiness of the department.
The department reports a need for a suitable strategic position to guide its Africa Agenda. It supports the Department of International Relations and Co-operation’s review of the White Paper on peace missions, among other things.
In conclusion, working together with the region and the continent in peacekeeping, we can ensure poverty eradication, peace, stability and prosperity for all Africans on the continent. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Minister, like a soccer game, a referee has what we call referee optional time. We do have discretion time as presiding officers. I will give you two minutes for discretionary use.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Thank you. Does that give me five minutes, Chair?
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS
Mr C L GOLOLO
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Chair, first of all I would like to thank all the hon members of the House who have supported the Budget Vote. I would now like to get to the specifics of some of the most ridiculous assertions that were made to the House.
Mr Maynier, let me assure you that the quotation you took from Helen Suzman has no effect here. All of the hon members here do not like bullets, especially those who took bullets to ensure that this country is a free and democratic country. [Applause.] We took those bullets for you to sit there today. We don’t like them. So, this doesn’t wash with us.
You go on and give us a quotation that you would much rather give yourself to a cause that helps people who are homeless. We don’t give ourselves to a cause for people who are homeless, we build those homes. This is what this government has done. If you are looking for a cause, you have certainly come to the wrong place.
I want to continue and say that quite clearly you had written your speech and were unable to comprehend what was said. We were all unable to deviate from such a speech because all the issues you raised – border patrol, state of readiness, etc – were raised and dealt with comprehensively in the speech.
The rhetoric of the hon member is completely misplaced. I want to suggest to the DA that perhaps they should have given him another place to cut his teeth instead of with this particular platform. [Applause.] This is because in the Defence Budget Vote we have no place for theatrics. We have serious business to deal with here. We have the issue of security of this country to deal with.
Also in relation to you, Mr Maynier, I want to go on to say that I am extremely glad you left the Defence Force as, quite clearly, you are given more to drama than to service. [Laughter.] [Applause.] Mr Maynier, the word “Chihuahua” comes to your mind. Does it come to your mind? No, I’m sure it wouldn’t. It comes to my mind.
I want to thank the hon Groenewald for his support. My wish is that you offer free lessons to the DA. You complain about the people who failed their navigation exams in my service. These people have failed with distinction their navigation exams in understanding what it is that this country is about. Please give them free lessons. [Applause.]
I want to respond to Mr Tolo. Mr Tolo, I take note of your concerns. I want to say to you that unfortunately they are misplaced here. We will have public hearings on the issue that the Deputy Minister is dealing with, and please feel free to raise your concerns in that forum.
Ayanda, you said all that I wanted to say about military veterans. We can only assure you and the military veterans that they are in very good hands – between me and the Deputy Minister. [Applause.]
Mr Mlangeni, thank you for clarifying the matter that in fact the demand for the state of readiness of the SA National Defence Force is not a common request from the portfolio committee, but a position of the DA. If this is the case, then the DA is seriously abusing this House. The portfolio committee will be given such briefings at their request and not at the request of a particular party for whatever myopic reasons that they might want that briefing for. [Applause.]
Finally, I want to thank the Deputy Minister for his support and endurance. I also want to thank the Secretary for Defence, and I want to thank my staff in the Ministry who have done an outstanding job. Chairperson, thank you very much. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We went into lunch. I hope you have lunch for all your guests who are here, Minister.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Yes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): So, you are all invited to the lunch, including yourselves, hon members.
HON MEMBERS: Where?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The Minister will tell you.
The Committee rose at 13: 18.
Keh / END OF TAKE