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Calls for more funds to help army as it faces budget cuts and can’t keep communities from stripping infrastructure

Members of the defence force deployed during lockdown. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Members of the defence force deployed during lockdown. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 3, 2022

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Cape Town - Parliament’s standing committee on appropriations has called for more funds to be allocated to the Department of Defence as it faces a cash crisis due to budget cuts, which led to some of its problems.

This comes after the portfolio committee on defence warned that the military base in Pretoria was under siege from communities nearby, who built houses and stripped it of infrastructure close to the Special Forces School in Murrayhill.

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Chairperson of the appropriations committee Sifiso Buthelezi said the military base in Murrayhill was under siege.

He said they were concerned about the state of security in the country if the defence force was under-funded.

Buthelezi said the army played a key role in defence of the country and other key programmes.

But Rendani Randela of the National Treasury told the committee there were many issues affecting the Department of Defence.

He said he understood the call by Buthelezi for additional funding for the defence force, but there needed to be reforms in the army.

“Your comment, chairperson, is that there is a need for additional funding in defence. Yes, I agree it’s necessary but not sufficient in the sense that you will remember in our discussion during your visit that we discussed a whole lot of issues, one of which is that we need some serious reforms both in defence as a department and the defence industry itself – Armscor, Denel and other role-players – because without dealing with the cost driver in the department, which is the compensation of employees, we will hardly make progress even if we pump money in there,” said Randela.

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He said when the committee made an oversight visit it also looked at the personnel in the department.

“The Appropriation Bill in front of you has got R1.8 billion additional funding allocated to the Department of Defence so that they can begin to do something in terms of implementing the reforms, especially to deal with the compensation challenge in defence. In the main, that allocation will be for the rejuvenation of the defence force,” he said.

The Department of Defence has for more than 10 years been complaining about budget cuts saying they impacted on its programmes.

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It has said the billions that have been cut by the National Treasury had forced it to cut down on some of its plans over the years.

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