MEDIA RELEASE BY MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS

Interim National Defence Force Service Commission statement

Date of release 09 September 2010

The Interim National Defence Force Service Commission (INDFSC) has taken note of the mistaken if not erroneous interpretation of the facts by a member of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, Honourable David Maynier, MP, wherein he says in a statement:

“The Acting Chairperson of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission, Aboobaker Ismail, briefed the portfolio committee on 16 March 2010 that the Second Interim Report of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission, which was submitted on 10 December 2010, focused on inter alia establishing a permanent National Defence Force Service Commission.

He went further and briefed the portfolio committee that the recommendation, contained in the report submitted on 10 December 2010, to establish a permanent National Defence Force Service Commission had been approved by the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans.”

Indeed the INDFSC met the Portfolio Committee on March 16, 2010; and reference was made to the two interim reports already submitted by the INDFSC to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (MOD&MV), Ms Lindiwe Sisulu. In his main presentation, Acting Chairperson Ismail reported that two interim reports had been submitted to the MOD&MV; and that in the second one was included the urgent need for short term remunerative relief for certain ranks of the Defence Force; as well as the recommendation, accompanied by a draft bill, for the creation of the permanent National Defence Force Service Commission.

It would appear that it is in regard to the latter aspect that the Honourable Member of the Portfolio Committee is in reference. And in light of the apparent confusion as to the facts of the matter here, the INDFSC considers it to be in the public interest to dispel the confusion by clarifying this and setting out the purpose and status of the Interim Commission’s work.

Since the 3rd October 2009 to date hereof, the Interim Commission has been engaged in the execution of its mandate in the context of its terms of reference. In the execution of its work, amongst other activities the Commission has visited Services and Divisions of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and consulted with members of the SANDF of all ranks to solicit their view on the conditions of service.

The Commission has also undertaken benchmarking visits to the UK and USA to study their conditions of service, and continues to do that with other selected countries. It has attended to and made recommendations to the Minister on salary adjustments for SANDF members on salary levels 2 to 12 which were approved by the Minister and President and implemented on 16 December 2009 as well as recommendations on Occupational Specific Dispensations for members with scarce skills. These recommendations were the result of a wide ranging consultation with, among others, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Public Service Commission, the Intelligence and the Correctional Services.

In addition to addressing specific aspects of service conditions, on which it has made several recommendations, the Interim Commission, on a parallel basis, also worked on the development of the draft Bill for the permanent National Defence Force Service Commission.

It is important to understand that the conceptualisation of a unique and separate dispensation for the service conditions of the Defence Force is something that has already been determined by the Department of Defence (DOD) & Military Veterans before the INDFSC was formed in October 2009. The MOD&MV declared the intention to establish such a dispensation in her July 3, 2009 Budget Speech when she said that she was:

“Considering making a request for a separate dispensation for the Department of Defence that would allow us to creatively deal with our own needs and the specificities of our own unique security requirements.”

She argued that “There is a precedence to this in the creation of the special dispensation for the intelligence services.” The creation of the INDFSC in October 2009 therefore, was to take the process forward in the writing of the relevant Bill as mandated. In that context, the INDFSC’s interim report of December 10 was not to “recommend” that a permanent commission be created, since that prior decision had already been made as part of the raison d’être for the Interim Commission.

In that context the first two of the Interim Commission’s Terms of Reference listed below were:

  • To advise and make recommendations on a unique service dispensation, outside the ambit of the Public Service, in respect of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
  • To advise and make recommendations regarding the amendment of the regulatory framework in order to give effect to the unique dispensation in this regard  
The third item of the Terms of Reference was:
  • To investigate, provide expert advice and make recommendations regarding remuneration and the conditions of service of members of the SANDF

The Interim Commission’s December 10 report sought to deliver on aspects of both these elements of the Terms of Reference. It delivered:

a) The draft Bill of the already decided creation of the permanent National Defence Force Service Commission; and
b) A recommendation regarding specific relief with regard to remuneration.

This is what Commissioner Ismail was reporting on to the Portfolio Committee on March 16. He reported on the two reports already given to the MOD&MV – the first one dealing solely with matters of service conditions; the second one dealing with service conditions with recommendations; plus the submission of the required draft Bill for the already determined special dispensation of the permanent commission.

The Interim Commission regrets the general misconception that the interim reports which represent interim status updates of observations and recommendations on conditions of service has a direct bearing on the decision to draft a bill for the special dispensation of the permanent commission, a decision that did not need the recommendation of the INDFSC as it had already been made by Cabinet.

We regret, even more, the fact that this misconception is also shared by some members of the Portfolio Committee through the misreading of the INDFSC’s March 16, 2010 presentation led by Commissioner Ismail. We wish to make it clear that the interim reports by the Commission on service conditions, have no direct bearing on the drafting of the Bill by the Interim Commission for the establishment of the permanent commission, as the two are parallel processes – one drafting the Bill for a permanent commission, and the other looking at service conditions on an ongoing basis making improvement recommendations, a task to be picked up and taken forward systematically by the permanent commission once legislated.

The Interim Commission had hoped that the creation of the permanent Commission would have gone through the necessary Executive and Legislative processes while the Interim Commission continues to review the service conditions and making recommendations on an ongoing basis. With the passing of the legislation, the way would be clear for the appointment of the permanent commission, and the Interim Commission winding up and submitting its final report upon which the now permanent National Defence Force Service Commission would build into the future the infrastructure designed to attend to the unique career circumstances of men and women whose oath surrenders their life and wellbeing, and that of their loved ones, to the State through the protocols of the Armed Forces. That final report will deal most comprehensively with all aspects of the Interim Commission’s work, including the feedback that the Commission would have received with respect to any of its observations.

In the context of the currently prevailing public concerns and elements of misunderstandings, the INDFSC has gained appreciation of the significance and urgency of the final report that is inclusive of everything. The Interim National Defence Force Service Commission therefore is hopeful to deliver a comprehensive and detailed report by the end of 2010.

The Interim National Defence Force Service Commission is confident that this statement will clarify the position and status of the interim reports on Defence Force service conditions to the Minister, and their relationship to the separate business of the draft Bill.

ENDS.

Issued by: Interim National Defence Force Service Commission (INDFSC)
Enquiries: Head of Communication
Mr Siphiwe Dlamini
0836454294
Telephone: (012) 355 6105