Counting the cost of Armed Forces Day celebrations

2017-03-23 14:18
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Netwerk24)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Hosting the annual Armed Forces Day celebrations has cost almost R50m in the past two years, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a parliamentary reply.

The minister was replying to a question from the Democratic Alliance MP Kobus Marais, who questioned the objectives of hosting the one-day event, considering the budget constraints faced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The ministry said the celebrations are to honour the men and women who serve in the SANDF and to affirm the country's support and gratitude to them for upholding the Constitution, defending the territorial integrity of the country and protecting its people.

The SANDF also uses the event to strengthen its relationship with the broader population and to reach out to local communities, the minister said.

But these celebrations do not come cheap.

In 2016 it cost R20.8m to celebrate the day, and for 2017 the total costs amounted to R24.7m.

Shrinking budget

"The SANDF does not have an allocated budget for the Armed Forces Day and therefore the host service (rotated among the services on an annual basis) budgets for the corporate costs while all participating services and divisions budget for their participating members' subsistence and travel costs," the minister said in the reply published on Thursday.

The celebrations were held in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016 and eThekwini in 2017.

In her 2016 budget vote, the minister complained about a shrinking defence budget.

"Our budget will decline to 1.03% of GDP and for FY 2018/19 a further decline to 0.98% of GDP. This will have serious implications on the defence function of the Republic of South Africa," she said at the time.

She said the department had consistently indicated the defence allocation should be incrementally increasing toward at least 2% of GDP, "yet defence is consistently 50% underfunded, with compounding effects on our ability to conduct operations".

Read more on:    parliament  |  da  |  nosiviwe maphisa-nqakula

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