Defence force becoming 'unsustainable' due to budget cuts
Johannesburg - Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday said the budget cuts were making the defence force more unsustainable.
Briefing the media ahead of her budget vote speech, Mapisa-Nqakula said the department has been continuously forced to adjust its plans downwards in response to the declining budget.
"The defence force is becoming progressively more unsustainable in terms of declining defence allocations. We have now reached the point where the Republic must decide on the kind of defence force it wants and what it can afford," she said.
"We need a frank discussion very soon as we risk irreversible damage to the defence force as a whole," Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The department has been allocated R50.510 billion in the 2019-20 financial year.
Last year, Mapisa-Nqakulaa decried the inadequate budget her department was allocated, which has been declining over the last two decades.
She had complained that the defence allocation has been declining by 5% per to a mere 1% of the Gross Domestic Product.
“The appropriate funding level as articulated in the defence review would require a steady increase to at least 2% of GDP over time,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at the time.
Today, the minister said a comparative analysis of other SADC countries indicated how under-funded the SANDF was.
"Regional defence budgets are increasing whilst our defence budget is declining."
Mapisa-Nqakula also said they have developed a strategic view on specific threats to the South Africa, including porous borders, increasing terrorism threat and extremists groups.
"South Africa is not immune to this threat. Organised and violent crime threat and challenge sovereignty, integrity and authority of the state. This cannot be allowed to persist."
General Solly Shoke, chief of the SANDF, said South Africa was not an island and immune to any threat.
"If you want to live comfortably, you must prepare for the worst," Shoke said before referring to threats in Mozambique and Congo.
Mapisa-Nqakula said there was need for more resources in order to deploy full complement of 22 companies as opposed to the 15 currently on the borders.
"We also need more technology to support SANDF to patrol and protect the country," Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Joint defence portfolio committee chairperson Cyril Xaba said the consequences of limited budget illustrates the need for more funding.
"We are deploying 15 units instead of 22 to effectively safeguard our land borders," Xaba said.
DA's Sarel Marais said the country should prepare for Day-Zero scenario on SANDF finances.
"We are approaching the cliff at an alarming pace," Marais said.
He said the defence required R80bn to fund its programmes as opposed to the R50bn allocation.
"Something must be done to prevent losing what is left of our defence capability,"he said.
EFF's Sam Matiase questioned why defence budget was reduced when threat was permanently lacking and that it was not within but outside the country.
"The real threat is imperialism,"Matiase said.
Freedom Front Plus' Pieter Groenewald said there was no international and external threat against South Africa.
Groenewald said there was an internal threat in SANDF where corruption manifested itself with a senior officer's wife irregularly obtained tenders.
"We cannot go to taxpayers and say we want more when we have corruption taking place in the national defence force," he said.
PACs Mzwanele Nyhontso said the underfunding was an insult to soldiers who laid down their lives in defence of the nation
"It can't be allowed that the department in a state of decline," Nyhontso said.