SA army gulps down over R1,2?mln

2013-10-17 00:00

THE hierarchy of South Africa’s army has literally been on a feeding frenzy over the past financial year during which it gulped down more than R1,2 million of its already slimmed down budget.

The army’s top structure consumed three-course meals every time they got together for weekly or bi-weekly meetings.

The latest budget revealed that together the army council (comprising about 15 members), the army’s command council (about 35 members) and the accounting management council (between 10 and 15 members), all from Pretoria, consumed R1,213 million in the name of “entertainment”.

From time to time visitors or invited guests joined the feasts.

It appears that complete three-course meals are dished up during the meetings. Add to that tea, coffee and other treats.

Insiders say that while it is true that the meetings take up most of the day, it has become necessary — in the light of the enormous cost savings that are taking place within the defence force — that the generals also tighten their belts.

One of the army’s two most active brigades, the 43 SA Brigade, has only spent a paltry R9 480 on entertainment during the same period.

The expenses of 46 SA Brigade totalled R88 104, the bulk of which had been used to pay for the food and drinks that were consumed by the military VIPs during the annual military exercises, Operation Seboka.

The infantry corps, which includes the majority of the army’s soldiers, has spent close to R700 000 for the year’s entertainment.

Insiders say that the R133 000 that the Mahikeng Municipality in the North West has reportedly spent on Nando’s every month, is small change compared to the army’s lunch bill.

They also say that the over- indulgence by the generals sends the wrong message to their subordinates, who have to assure that SA’s war machine still functions amidst financial cuts.

Armies such as that of Australia now serve the top structure cheaper wines rather than expensive imports.

Spending cuts have also forced the American defence force to cut down on the 234 golf courses that were under its command.

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently said that the defence force has to accept that it would have to give a full account for every pound it receives from taxpayers.

David Maynier, the DA’s defence spokesperson, said it is obvious that the army’s generals are not satisfied with a modest Nando’s meal.

“It is inappropriate if one takes into account that the defence budget has already been cut to the bone and that much of the defence force’s expertise has been lost as a result of that,” said Maynier.

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