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President Jacob Zuma on Monday signed the Defence Amendment Bill into law, paving the way for a service commission for soldiers separate from that of other civil servants, the presidency said.
The enactment of the law was welcomed by Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who said her department would finalise all details to ensure the effective functioning of the new commission.
“The signing of the Act introduces a new dispensation in the SANDF and a permanent National Defence Force Service Commission; this is a historic moment for our soldiers as the new dispensation manages all affairs of the SANDF in a manner that recognises that soldiers are our last line of defence, they protect our nation. Soldiers are celebrating this important milestone,” Sisulu said.
The bill was briefly held up this year in a wrangle between Sisulu and Parliament's portfolio committee on defence, who took the unusual step of refusing to process it until she had given them insight into reports by the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission.
However, MPs backed down after the Speaker and the ANC intervened in support of the minister.
Both Zuma and Sisulu are on record as wanting to ban military unions, following a violent march by soldiers to the Union Buildings in August to demand higher pay, but the new law does not do so.
This was after MPs warned that any clause seeking to do away with the military bargaining council or unions directly would be unconstitutional. - Sapa