Public must wait for 'scathing' defence report

2010-11-25 18:16

Pretoria - A "scathing" report into the state of the military will not be made public for now, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.

The interim national defence force service commission report would first have to pass through proper parliamentary processes, she told reporters in Pretoria.

"Will I release the report... I would have wanted to say yes. We are unable to release the report until proper processes with the Speaker have been concluded," Sisulu said.

"However, I will be interacting with the portfolio committee (the parliamentary portfolio committee on defence) and I will urge them to make this public because I think it is in the best interests of the country."

Comprehensive review

Sisulu said the report was the first comprehensive review of the defence force in 16 years.

"It offers us very good insight into what is working and what is not working," she said.

"They generally make quite a number of scathing remarks, but then overall they say we believe significant changes have been made since November 2009."

Sisulu did read out some of the report's recommendations later in the news conference, saying it was "in the interests of transparency" to do so.

"The main finding in the report is that process of integration and transformation remains a serious challenge," she said.

"What we should deal with is the rearrangement of the organisation structure, culture, ideology and ranking in the defence force."

Outflow of expertise

Sisulu said there had been a significant reduction of the percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) spent on the defence force.

"We suggest that perhaps we should adhere to the 2% of the GDP as the necessary budget to deal with some of the issues that come out in the report."

A major concern raised in the report was the outflow of expertise from the defence force in the past years, the minister said.

"There must be an immediate intervention to ensure that the self worth of the SANDF has been attended to."

The report contained remarks on a "dysfunctional relationship" between the military command and the defence secretariat.

"They suggest perhaps we should look into this matter and make sure there is better synergy between these two," Sisulu said.

Inadequate funding

The report of the commission - chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Lebotsang Ronnie Bosielo, and including United Democratic Movement leader and retired general Bantu Holomisa, and Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus-- comes amid reports about the shocking state of the defence force.

Last week, the SA Air Force (SAAF) told MPs that there was "inadequate funding" to fly its multi-billion-rand Gripen fighter and Hawk fighter-trainer aircraft.

To save on costs, pilots were training on Pilatus aircraft because these were cheaper to operate than the Hawks.

On its air combat capability, the SAAF said it had planned to fly 950 training hours, but only 715 were achieved.

The day before, MPs heard that one of the reasons the SA Navy submarine SAS Manthatisi had been out of operation for "about three years" was due to a lack of submarine-trained personnel.


Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, who has been reading out extracts from a leaked copy of the interim report during members' statement time in the National Assembly, has told the House that morale is so low in the SANDF it "could even threaten state security".

Maynier also told MPs the interim report had found that "it is possible that the level of combat readiness in the SANDF is not quite as good as it should be".

"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.

In a statement, the defence ministry said the "bad conditions of service" Maynier referred to were lies being spread to discredit the SANDF and its leaders for political gain.

Maynier, who serves on Parliament's defence portfolio committee, has vowed he will not allow the reports' contents to remain hidden.

  • Mike - 2010-11-25 18:56

    So why are we not surprised?

  • Boerseun - 2010-11-25 19:01

    Geez and they needed three people to come up with this, something we all allready know?

  • Worldwise - 2010-11-25 19:15

    Yep, It's taken the ANC only 16 years to ruin one of the world's most capable and respected military forces. Before the ANC apologists and anti apartheid clans shoot me down, that is respected for military combat ability.

      Wernerkwane - 2010-11-25 19:22

      They not only destroyed, the military they also destroyed Education, Health, the Police force, roads etc etc etc.

  • Vark - 2010-11-25 19:25

    Will they tell us how the AA pilots stuffed up the Gripen fighters? You know like missing run ways on landing, etc, etc.

  • Crest Publishing - 2010-11-25 19:44

    As a retired member of the old Governments security forces I have this to say. Our current military has degenerated into a rabble led by a minister who has no insight into what a military force whould be. She is there in name only and Sisulu himself had no military background. This rabble made up of so called MK fighters who fought no battle on South African soil would lose against an invading Botswanan army. Might not be a bad thing if it got rid of a corrupt ANC government

  • muttlet - 2010-11-25 20:18

    I stopped by Simons Town naval base recently. As a former U.S. Army officer, I was shocked at the sight of the place. What a dump. If my troops lived there they would not have any morale either. At army bases in the states, they are immaculate. You will never find a piece of trash on the ground, unmowed grass, broken windows in barracks, peeling paint, the list is endless. Morale of any unit starts with the leadership. Your men need to know that whatever you ask, you would be willing to go through their same hardships. How do they know, by seeing you do it. You do not need a union in an army to help with morale. Actually I wont get started with the absurdity of a unionized armed forces. My men had morale and esprit de corp in the unit, because they shed blood sweat and tears together. They would go the extra mile, because I would be leading them that extra mile. I am not a extraordinary example of US military leadership, rather the norm. When you start busting you backside, go the extra mile, try to be better than the next unit; then you will have morale. But what do I know, I was only in the army for eight years, 5 of which was leading troops in combat in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

      muttlet - 2010-11-25 20:22

      sidenote: When I first arrived in this country, I offered the SA Army to train them on combatives (basically mixed martial arts, like UFC but better) and they refused. I was not even going to charge them, I just wanted to keep my skills sharp. Sad. I guess you get what you vote for.

      Dave - 2010-11-25 20:50

      I think you have summed it up mate, its such a sad indictment, and such a waste of talent and most of all resources. The truth will always come out, and here it comes, but you have already spoken it for us

      Kenko - 2010-11-26 08:19

      Yeah I was in the old SADF '82 -'83 and I remember the day when Mandela was taking the lead. They had some woman in uniform greeting the dignitaries, and she wore stacks of medals and shiny rank insignia. However, she thought that acting stick-like would pass for basic moves. She saluted with both hands and making about-turns any way she wanted. That day I knew what was coming. The unions only served to screw things up further. Sad really.

  • Justin - 2010-11-25 21:15

    Thank God I didn't go PF is all I can say. There is nothing left of the SADF and I feel sorry for the genuine soldiers still there.

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