Defence commission established
Cape Town - Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu established an interim commission on Monday to make recommendations about remuneration and conditions of service for soldiers in the defence force.
"I am of the considered view that a National Defence Force Service Commission must be established immediately to assist me to deal with these vitally important issues so that our national security is never compromised," Sisulu said at a media briefing in Cape Town.
The commission will have to investigate and make recommendations regarding the remuneration and conditions of service of members of the defence force, Sisulu said.
Evaluations and analysis
This will require among others, an analysis of the purpose, duties, responsibilities, powers and activities attached to the various positions in the armed forces and the evaluation and grading of all posts.
"The commission must interact with the Council of Defence and brief it on its work from time to time," Sisulu said.
"It must also interact with the soldiers through the due protocols of the Defence Force." Sisulu said the commission was not meant to "take the place of unions".
"Unions are not a matter of discussion right now," she said.
"Unfortunately we did have a strike. This would have continued regardless of that. It is long overdue. It should have been done a long time ago."
Members of the SA National Defence Force went on an illegal strike in August, marching to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
They were protesting against poor salaries and working conditions. Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at them when they tried to climb over the fence into the Union Buildings' property.
'Deplorable' state of facilities
Sisulu also said on Monday she was very concerned about the "deplorable" state of facilities in the defence force.
"I want them to be treated as decently as soldiers deserve. I think they are doing an excellent job. I want to make sure that the state does look after them.
"The morale of our soldiers depends on how they are looked after."
Draft legislation, which will pave the way for the permanent establishment of a commission, is being considered.
The formal appointment procedures of the members and the commission's terms of reference are being finalised.
The commission includes Justice Lebotsang Bosielo of the North Gauteng High Court, General Lambert Moloi, the former chief of the service corps of the defence force, Renfrew Christie, the dean of research at the University of the Western Cape and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.