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Pretoria - South Africa's military budget has been scaled down as the country is no longer at war, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard on Friday.
“It is a democratic country now promoting good relations with everybody... and many, many countries around the world had to scale down their level of defence ammunition,” deputy SA Air Force chief Maj-Gen Gerald Malinga said.
“Technology has also played a key role (to scale down on defence ammunition) ... because the capability we have now is multiple and one platform can do more.”
The first defence budget cut was in 1990 - “so there was no longer that big purse available”.
Malinga said that in the mid-1980s to the early 1990s South Africa had 355 fighter and bomber aircraft, and to date the air force had 52.
In 1997, there was another huge budget cut and the military opted to go for technology which could be used on various platforms instead of quantity.
By the mid-1980s, the defence budget was 4.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 25.7 percent of total government spending.
Today the defence budget was about 1.2 percent of GDP and 16 percent of total government expenditure, he said.
“(Because of) the 1997 budget cut the size of the air force was no longer affordable,” he said.
“Many platforms were needed to be phased down.”
Malinga said the military threat determined the defence systems required.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.