SANDF has done well despite reduced funding

The writer takes issue with reader Lucas Mogashoa's perspective about the SANDF.
The writer takes issue with reader Lucas Mogashoa's perspective about the SANDF.

On June 12 2019, a letter containing wild and unsubstantiated allegations from one Lucas Mogashoa from Palm Ridge was published in Sowetan, under "National Defence Force deteriorating since Sisulu left as minister".

The department of defence, and by extension the citizens of SA, are extremely fortunate to have been served by outstanding ministers of defence since the dawn of the democratic era in 1994 to date.

These men and women who acted as the custodians of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) were all very capable servants of the nation that moulded the SANDF from the old SA Defence Force (SADF) to a National Defence Force that is respected not only by the people of SA, but also by our neighbours and the rest of the continent. Indeed, a milestone to be proud of.

Some bit of education is needed with regards to where we are today. The author of the letter does not seem to understand, or has little knowledge of, how national departments, let alone the department of defence, function.

It must be noted that one of the major policy's developed by the department of defence, which gives direction on how the SANDF should be directed and resourced, is the SA defence review 2015.

This defence policy, which determines the make-up of the department of defence and the resources needed, was approved by cabinet and endorsed by the fifth parliament. It sets the tone and trajectory the department should take beyond 2025.

The department has since developed implementation plans for the SA defence review 2015 and presented these to parliament. Unfortunately, government has not been able to fully fund this policy and its plans.

If the author had the interest in the SANDF, he would have followed these developments and thus understood where we are.

Without government funding, the plans that are derived from this policy will be close to impossible to implement. There is nothing the department can do, but to keep knocking at the door of government for funding, which has been the case over the years.

The author should also realise that the budget of the defence establishment has been decreasing since 1998 and to date the budget stands at 0.98% of the total government spent from almost 3% in 1994. Where-as other countries in the region spend between 2.5% - 3% on their defence forces. We spend so little, yet we are the biggest economy in the region. Even external commentators have lamented the situation the department finds itself in.

It is very naive of the author to place the blame on a single individual and shows a lack of understanding of the issues around the defence force and what the entire leadership of the defence establishment is faced with.

Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, Defence Headquarters, Pretoria

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