Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has warned that the army is stretched to the limit as its budget continues to be cut.
Modise said with the floods in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces their equipment has also come under pressure as they needed to intervene.
But the role of the army was coming under severe pressure as it had to meet its constitutional obligations against a number of threats.
Opposition parties said the SANDF has been in a state of decline over the years.
The EFF and DA blamed the government for the poor state of the defence force.
They also said the ongoing budget cuts have contributed to the poor state of the army.
Modise said the intervention of the army during the floods in KZN and other provinces has stretched the resources of the defence force.
“These deployments also come at great cost to the equipment and funding of the SANDF. There is often little or no reimbursement delivered. This puts SANDF under great pressure. Honourable members will remember that we have a dire shortage of critical equipment currently, not to speak of future disasters and continuous climate change events; for example, tents, water purification and distribution systems are critically low. Serviceable airframes and flying hours are also in critical state. Honourable Speaker, I must inform this House that the SANDF will be hard-pressed to respond to critical events in other provinces should the need arise. I state this with a very heavy heart – we are willing, but we lack resources. Unless there is a significant intervention, the cupboard will remain bare,” said Modise.
Modise also warned that the shrinking budget will have an impact on the defence industry.
She said it must be borne in mind that the army needs to plan for the short term, medium term and long term.
But this was becoming difficult because of the budget cuts.
The role of the army was no longer meeting its obligation, but driven by the budget.
“The historical downward trend in the defence allocation has not abated. It is likely to continue to the detriment of the SANDF and the demise of the defence industry,” said Modise.
She said they need to have a long-term plan for the military and how much they would need in the coming years.
This is the discussion she will have to have with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.
The funding of the army has over the years been under discussion in various platforms.
A few weeks ago, concern was raised about the encroachment of civilians, who are building shacks close to a military base in Pretoria.
“The current state of equipment and facilities can, in many instances, be ascribed to questionable leadership and poor decision-making. These tarnish the image of the National Defence Force,” said Modise.