The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) needs a bigger budget, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday.
“I don’t think government has a choice at this point. We had to conduct this Defence Review in order to have an appreciation of the organisation we have, its capabilities vis-à-vis the missions assigned to it,” she said in Pretoria.
“Remember the defence force does not deploy itself. When such deployments are done, unfortunately there hasn’t been consideration of whether we have adequate resources.”
The minister was briefing reporters on the findings and recommendations of the long-awaited Defence Review, compiled by a committee of experts who scrutinised the SANDF.
She said the committee found a mismatch in resource allocation and defence missions.
“Our view, I am an optimist by the way, is that now that everybody has interrogated the Defence Review report and everybody will have an appreciation of the urgency of increasing the budget of the defence force.
“I think that in bidding this year for next year’s budget, Treasury will have to take into consideration this report,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula referred to the controversial 1999 arms deal. “For me the arms deal does not affect or impact on the work we are trying to do right now. We are projecting, trying to assist the defence force to survive and to restore its dignity for the next 20 years.”
Government acquired military assets, including 26 Gripen and 24 Hawk fighters, as part of the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.
In September 2011 President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, to probe the acquisitions.
On Wednesday, SANDF chief General Solly Shoke said it was imperative for the defence force to increase its capabilities.
“The reality of the matter is that we are going to increase our footprint as a national defence force. Over 90 percent of our economy is through the sea and that requires that we should be able to defend our marine economy.”
The latest Defence Review committee was appointed by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu in 2011. The review was originally scheduled to have been formally approved at the end of 2012.
South Africa’s first Defence Review in 1998 had assumed that the armed forces would only deploy one battalion for external operations in Africa, but by 2006 four battalions were deployed across the continent.
Currently, there were South African battalions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region.