Mapisa-Nqukula admits military meltdown

2014-04-23 20:36
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Picture: AFP)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is in urgent need of investment to ensure it can meet its international commitments after two decades of budget cuts have left it under-equipped, the defence minister said on Wednesday.

In 1998, it was assumed South Africa would only deploy a single battalion to foreign missions, but by 2006 the country had committed to four to missions across Africa, overstretching its resources.

There is "an urgent need to comprehensively capacitate and equip" the SANDF, which is underfunded and lacks enough working equipment, said Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The force's "shortcomings must be addressed to prevent the steady decline of the SANDF and the potentially disastrous consequences that could follow", she added.

A recent report by a government-appointed panel of experts said the military is in a "critical state of decline" due to chronic underfunding and warned that it may take up to a decade to get it back into shape.

It found that the meltdown has threatened the army's defence capacity at home and its ability to take part in foreign peacekeeping operations.

The army is "finding it increasingly difficult to sustain the deployment of its soldiers in the various peace missions across the continent," said the report, released last month.

Budget cuts

South Africa's once feared and respected defence force has been hit by budget cuts and much of its equipment is no longer fit for purpose.

Defence expenditure stands at around 1.1% of GDP, which Mapisa-Nqakula said is below the 2.0% usually spent by a developing country during peacetime.

Funding problems have been caused by the government prioritising spending on the South Africa's previously neglected poor, particularly in black communities, she said.

"Commitments in Africa far [also] exceeded what was anticipated in the aftermath of the advent of democracy in 1994," the defence minister added.

As one of Africa's military powerhouses, SA has deployed troops to peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan's Darfur.

It previously sent troops to Burundi, Lesotho and Central African Republic. Its navy has also recently begun patrolling the waters off neighbouring Mozambique to ward off pirates.

South Africa is also among 10 countries that have said they would contribute to Africa's planned rapid-deployment emergency force, which is being created to swiftly intervene in crises.

"What this means is that South Africa is almost certain to increase its commitment on the continent," said the minister.

SA's increasing commitments justify "that defence expenditure be set slightly above 2% of GDP", argued the minister.

Read more on:    sandf  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  government spending  |  arms deal

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.