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'Military' plan to help councils

By Katlego Moeng | Nov 11, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE minsters of defence and co-operative governance are working on a plan to have military engineers help struggling municipalities with service delivery projects.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and her counterpart Sicelo Shiceka are working towards having the plan ready for a cabinet lekgotla in January.

The plan was first mooted in weekend newspapers, which quoted Sisulu as saying the military had the necessary skills to help out.Yesterday, her spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said military personel were as good as civilian professionals. "We have more than 200 personell in the full spectrum of engineering, from road building to dam and bridge construction and architecture."

Dlamini dismissed assertions that this was a fund-raising venture for his department. He said the military only wanted to help the country reach its full potential.

Shiceka's spokesperson Vuyelwa Vika said details on which municipalities, how many personnel and budget were not yet finalised.

Dlamini said: "Municipalities must pay for the services but at a much lower rate than private consultants."

Military analyst Helmoed Heitman said the defence force could help with "logistic planning, civil engineering advice and training in the maintenance of equipment".

Heitman said they could also help in developing security plans for municipalities and help local police with strategies.

"As long as they are restricted to providing advice, assistance and support, there should be no real problem," said Heitman.

Executive director of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering David Botha said there were up to 2000 vacancies in municipalities.

"We are not producing enough engineers despite many excellent programmes to mentor and train graduates. We need every bit of help we canget because we are in a serious crisis," Botha said.


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