South Africa - Johannesburg - 16 July 2021- South African National Defence Force (SANDF) helicopter is seen at the Alex Mall in Alexandra township, members of SANDF are on patrol in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Picture Itumeleng English/ African News Agency(ANA)
South Africa - Johannesburg - 16 July 2021- South African National Defence Force (SANDF) helicopter is seen at the Alex Mall in Alexandra township, members of SANDF are on patrol in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Picture Itumeleng English/ African News Agency(ANA)

SANDF deployment in KZN and Gauteng bolsters calls for more resources

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jul 31, 2021

Share this article:

THE deployment of the SANDF to support the police to bring stability in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has bolstered calls from MPs to increase resources for the army.

This emerged when the joint standing committee on defence considered a report following their visit to the province earlier this month.

Co-chairperson Cyril Xaba said the deployment has stretched the resources and put enormous pressure on the fiscus.

“We must use this opportunity to ask for more allocation to the Department of Defence going forward.

“It is clear that the mandate of SANDF is being extended more and more,” Xaba said.

He also said they knew the primary mandate of SANDF was to defend the territorial integrity of the country and work in cooperation and in support of other departments.

“We have seen that happening often.

“This supports the increase of resources allocated to the SANDF,” Xaba said.

DA MP Kobus Marais said the deployment presented an opportunity for the need for a bigger and a much more comprehensive budget.

“Let us not miss the opportunity and let us focus and get them behind us,” Marais said.

The committee undertook the oversight to review the role and participation of SANDF and also examine the level of cooperation and determine operational success and challenges during their deployment code named Operation Prosper.

They received briefings from commanders and visited areas affected by the violence and looting as well as the areas where soldiers were stationed.

In its report adopted on Friday, the committee said it noted the gratitude of local communities and business towards SANDF deployment and the contribution of Operation Prosper to the return of stability to affected areas.

The report said MPs observed that both reserve and permanent forces were deployed in both provinces.

However, the report said the MPs expressed significant concern about the state of equipment of SANDF and reiterated the need for fit for purpose equipment.

“Member specifically observed the fact that most of the SANDF equipment is old and that troops transport capabilities in the SANDF seems to be under severe pressure.

“Members expressed serious concerns around the South African Air Force capability to support extensive operations.”

Although the air force was commended for the level of support it managed to offer, the committee said it was evident that aircraft constraints have serious impact on effective mission support as well as troop and logistics movement.

MPs welcomed the elevated levels of cooperation between the SANDF and the SAPS as no serious cooperation constraints were reported.

They also welcomed the high levels of discipline by soldiers in the deployment.

The committee said they noted the value of the reserve force and that it was aware of the various constraints faced by the reserve force, notably budget constraints and an ageing force.

“The committee, therefore, recommends to the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans to include in its upcoming budget review and recommendations report a request to the National Treasury for increased funding for recruitment and deployment of the SANDF reserve force contingent.

“Additional funds for reserve force deployment should be specifically directed at domestic deployment such as support to the SAPS and increased border safeguarding.”

The committee also said it was concerned with the status of equipment of the SANDF and noted that it has been the subject of debate by the defence portfolio committee for some time.

“The negative impact of budget constraints on the status of the SANDF equipment and the resultant operational impact were clearly visible during the most recent oversight visit.”

This also applied to the South African Air Force’s strategic airlift capability.

“The current state puts the SANDF at a significant disadvantage for both domestic and international deployment,” the committee said, adding that it would request a report on SAAF strategic airlift capabilities and the potential funding.

The committee said it would ask National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to schedule an urgent parliamentary debate on the future utilisation, funding and strategic direction of the SANDF.

Political Bureau

Share this article: