First post, with a little moaning on the side.

2013-10-18 13:56

I'm the Western Cape Organiser for the biggest military trade union in South Africa, SANDU, and yes I'm that guy that was thrown out of Parliament by the ANC MPs for showing my tattoo's. I'd like to state that these are my personal views and they do not necessarily represent the views of my employer, or union membership.

Since I've started working there I have been exposed to so much in terms of how politics affects our soldiers, and I have come to learn that sadly, the majority of soldiers aren't happy.

The modern South African soldier faces so many problems these days, and I'd like to point these out to you. The list gets longer, but for now here are a few that really have been annoying me.

For starters, the SANDF is 'generally top heavy'. There are over 260 Generals and Admirals in the SANDF, they all earn a very nice salary,and it comes with plenty of benefits. For those interested in transformation of the force, none of the Chiefs of service are white. For those of you interested in women representing the top structures, unfortunately there are no women in the big seats, by big seats I mean chief of any one of the 4 arms of service in the SANDF. This "top heavy" approach is seen by many of the soldiers as a waste of money and there is the opinion of why so many Generals and Admirals? They don't do much but eat.

Funding and equipment, sure we have fancy new subs, ships and planes, but fact of the matter is we either do not have the man power for the equipment, and/or there is no money to operate the equipment. Currently the South African navy has only one of the new frigates out and sailing, the rest aren't combat ready. The submarines are in a maintenance cycle, the dud sub is still being fixed and the other two don't have crew to sail both at the same time. The Air force in my opinion is bankrupt,and what little resources are left are being spent on little ferry trips to Nkandla, an example of how expensive a trip in an Oryx chopper (the type of chopper used to ferry the president to Nkandla from Durban) will set the SAAF back +- R65 thousand/hour. As for the Army, reports in the media have stated that generals have eaten R1.2million this year alone, this while my sources tell me that troops In The DRC involved in combat are eating rat packs and viennas with rice. So evidence points to Management contributing to the further financial constraints in the SANDF, and it is all over the place, just read the papers. If it is not the Minister and the President using choppers like a Johannesburg minibus taxi, it's Generals and Admirals eating and wasting money on entertainment, that and the less than optimal budget allocated by National Treasury, optimal being close on 2% of GDP, we're sitting with half of that.

How the soldiers are being treated, well before the hardcore "when we" in you wants to say " when I was in national service we...." I'm going to ask you to have a look at what I have to say. When you were in the defence force during conscription or pre 94, were you humiliated for being pregnant in front of the whole unit? Told you were fat, and a disgrace to the uniform? Was the law broken and your right to equality taken from you? Well at school Of Infantry that happened to a group of 5 pregnant soldiers. Were you beaten with sawn off broomsticks after being stripped naked whilst carrying a tar pole? So badly that you required medical attention? Were you denied a post after basic training because you were homosexual? Were you humiliated so badly by your officer commanding that you felt is necessary to end your life knowing you were pregnant?

Well these are but a few of the many examples I see on a daily basis of how our troops are treated, the list is long, and all soldiers hear about this, and it has a massive effect on morale. What makes it worse is that in a recent investigation in the 13 deaths at School Of Infantry in Oudtshoorn, the finding was that no one was to blame.

As I said earlier this is but a small drop in the ocean of problems our regular NCO's and Officers are facing.

I'd like to encourage you to take a stance, one of support for our soldiers they work hard, for very little pay, and no they aren't a bunch of fat lazy slobs, that impression is one you get from looking at certain Generals and Admirals because you see them on TV, look carefully next time you watch the opening of Parliament, look at the soldiers and you'll see,they need your support, they really only have a voice via the military trade union SANDU, but public involvement and interest will go a long way! After all it's your tax money, and I personally want it to be used to better the country, not wasted on banquets, submarines that break, or for generals to have R1.2million 3 course lunches, when I have to take my own lunch to work.

If you have any concerns or would like me to write about something, give me a shout I'm always willing to assist.

Remember you do have a say, and you can make a difference.

Well that's the way I see it anyway, thanks for reading.

Follow me on twitter @tim_meh87

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