R1.1bn remuneration shortfall for soldiers

2014-07-09 17:03

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is facing a remuneration budget shortfall of more than R1?billion, secretary of defence Sam Gulube has said.

Briefing Parliament’s defence portfolio committee today, Gulube said various measures were being put in place so that the shortfall did not affect the country’s armed forces.

“For the remuneration of employees, we have a shortfall of about R1.1 billion right now and every month we are going to see how we are doing in terms of reducing that shortfall and at the end of the year, definitely, I’ll have to balance the books,” Gulube said.

The shortfall would affect future deployments, but would not mean soldiers would stop being paid.

“Right now, when you talk about deployments you do on the border, you don’t just think about the deployments that are done physically, but you have to think about the companies that have to be there on reserve because they need to take a break. They can’t be there forever,” Gulube said.

“At any given time, you want to have people who are in training, people who are in rotation – meaning they are in a rest period, and then people who are in deployment.”

The SANDF would have to extend the hours of soldiers currently deployed within and outside the country’s borders in order to reduce the shortfall.

“There were times when ... the rotations were three months. Now they are six months and we are looking at extending that ... to one year for the external deployments,” Gulube said.

It would be cheaper to keep soldiers deployed than to have them relieved by other troops through rotation.

Gulube said the fallout from the shortfall was not affecting morale at this stage.

“Amazingly, the morale in the deployed forces has been quite high. Everybody, most of the young members of the defence force ... they are always looking forward to using the skills that they developed towards deployments, towards engagement,” he said.

“Those who get into difficulties with morale and passion will be those who are left behind in supporting roles rather than those who are deployed.”

Gulube said various systems were being put in place to reduce the shortfall.

“When posts are vacant, we don’t fill them. We encourage people to take voluntary exit mechanisms and we are also looking at the attrition rate.”

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