SANDF combat readiness below par - DA
Cape Town - The combat readiness of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is not up to par, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said on Tuesday.
Speaking in the National Assembly during members' statement time, he revealed further extracts from a leaked copy of an interim report of the national defence force service commission.
The report has not been made public.
"On combat readiness, the interim report found that it is possible that the level of combat readiness in the SANDF is not quite as good as it should be," Maynier told MPs.
Last week, quoting from the same document, he told the House that morale was so low in the SANDF it "could even threaten state security", a comment that drew a sharp rejection from Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
"The bad conditions of service that David Maynier refers to that he says is a threat to national security is lies being spread to discredit the SANDF and its leaders for political gain.
"We reject the lies and ongoing campaign by David Maynier to negatively project the SANDF. It is a known fact that he hates the SANDF and will do anything to bad mouth and spread lies about the organisation," her ministry said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Maynier said Sisulu appeared to have "blown a political gasket". She was trying to persuade South Africans that all was well in the defence force.
However, the report showed service conditions in the SANDF were totally inadequate.
"On service conditions, (it) found that salaries of junior members are totally inadequate, and forced them to live in informal settlements far from their places of work, and that the effects of transport costs significantly dilutes their incomes, leading to social, psychological and family crises.
"The salary situation is so poor that some members state that they would rather have their right to vote revoked in lieu of non-payment of personal income tax.
"The housing allowance is regarded with ridicule, at R500 per month, because it cannot serve to cover bond repayments, and members are not able to get bonds through the commercial banks, given their poor salary levels," Maynier said.
Responding in the House, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said Sisulu had taken "extensive steps" to address the challenges she had encountered when she took over the portfolio.
"We have to acknowledge the steps she has taken to improve... the conditions of service, the status of the defence force, and the provisions the defence force require in order to carry out its work," Pandor told members.
Maynier, who serves on Parliament's defence portfolio committee, vowed last week that he would not allow the reports' contents to remain hidden.
"Using successive members' statements, I will read extracts from the interim reports. These will show not only that the defence force is in deep trouble, but that the minister misled the Speaker, misled this Parliament, and misled the people of South Africa," he said at the time.