minister of defence
deputy minister of defence
speeches
 

Budget Speech 2006

READINESS MUST BE RELEVANT

The President of the Palestinian Authority, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, will this afternoon address us. His visit includes a mission to tap into South Africa’s and other relevant national experiences of conflict resolution and maintenance of enduring and sustainable peace.

This highlights the significance our national profile has assumed in the search for peace in Africa and around the world. It explains why, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), we are now formulating a new White Paper on International Peacekeeping. This White Paper will draw mainly, but not exclusively, from our accumulated experiences in peacekeeping.

RELEVANCE OF READINESS

Madame Speaker, this immediately brings us face-to-face with the ever present question of readiness of the National Defence Force.

In order the best to respond to this concern we must ask the question: READY TO DO WHAT?

We must proceed from there because readiness:
(i) must proceed from the constitutional mandate placed on our shoulders;
(ii) must be linked to challenges (unforeseen sometimes) which might arise
(iii) flow from objectives that our government must achieve and

Madame Speaker, it is my submission this morning, that the National Defence Force is not only ready but will continue to be readier in the year (and years ahead).

READY TO DO WHAT?
In so far as national security is a function first of diplomacy and secondly of the military, we are ready beyond our borders and shores to reinforce all diplomatic missions our nation undertakes. We are busy with this critical defence function.

Since the democratization of our country and the consequent isolation of our nation from the community of nations, RSA made a paradigm shift from the mentality of the apartheid years. We think now with the mind of a free nation at liberty to participate with other nations of the world. We not only enter but are welcomed as a partner in all fora. Consequently, our planning knows no bounds!

But we are not drunk with the excitement of this dawn of a new era. We proceed into the wider world with the necessary prudence of one who understands the limitations of their situation and therefore especially that priorities have to be chosen carefully.

In this paradigm Africa remains the priority and central area of focus in the conduct of our foreign policy initiatives: Therefore we are ready to reinforce continental and regional structures, in particular, the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In this regard, we are working closely with DFA on a programme to strengthen bilateral relations in execution of the Cabinet decision of 2002 to ensure representation in each African country.

The Department of Defence (DOD) is already busy working to match DFA’s ambassadorial postings with our own postings of Defence Attaches (DA) in order to provide sorely needed defence input in the arsenal of diplomatic work. To date the DoD has deployed fourteen Defence Attaches in Africa. We intend to catch up with the diplomatic postings of DFA and then keep pace and are planning to increase this number so that by the end of 2008 we will have a total of 29 defence attaches on the Continent.

READY TO DO WHAT?

We are ready to support South Africa’s goal of promoting peace, democracy and good governance in the continent!

Stability is key to the attainment of this goal and that is why the National Defence Force carried out the mission to secure Barundi leaders, and led the African Union Mission in Burundi (AMIB). After the recent democratic elections in that country, the SANDF continues to sustain the burgeoning democracy there.

As institutions of governance firm up, the economy of that country revives and national life normalizes, the SANDF will be withdrawn and be available for deployment in new areas of concern.

May I take this opportunity to inform the House that the Ministry shall, in the near future, approach the President of the Republic and (Commander-In-Chief of the National Defence Force) to take time and pay tribute to the members who made the Burundi mission the proud success it is today.

Madame Speaker;

We are ready to continue to support the UN, through MONUC deployments, to sustain the stability of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Yes, Madame Speaker, we are relevantly ready, as indeed we are already at work, to help secure elections and promote democracy in the DRC by finalizing the integration of the armed forces of an emerging unified and democratic DR Congo.

We, in collaboration with friendly countries, have already registered and identified more than six battalions of that country’s forces in preparation for the security of the Presidential Elections on the 18th June

In keeping with the SADC commitments we are giving all necessary support to the SADC Organ in order to ensure that sister regional countries not only own the process but actively make available what additional support may become necessary for the success of the DRC process.

Madame Speaker, very recently, Cabinet approved the deployment of South African troops to the Comoros to secure the holding of true and fair elections there. The Command of the National Defence Force promptly ordered the deployment of some 371 troops to that country.

Madam Speaker, we are ready and are supporting stability missions in Darfur, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Presently the National Defence Force is already assisting the reunification of the armed forces of the Cote D’Ivoire through technical advice to the AU Mediation team as well as to the Chiefs of Staff as to how to go about the Disarmarment, Demobilisation and Reintegration process (DDR).

In all of these missions the National Defence Force has deployed in these theatres of conflict and tension, some 3,293 men and women, together with the concomitant equipment.

But the readiness of the National Defence Force has to be measured also in terms of its performance.

We exist for the purposes of executing successful missions. The success of its operations is the only way in which the Department of Defence is assessed and judged by our Government, other Governments, and the international public.

In this regard, I place on record that the Chief of the SANDF, General Ngwenya last week returned from a tour of the operational areas, in an upbeat mood.

He reported that he met the UN Special Representative in Burundi, the Chief of Staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the UN Force Commander in Sudan, the AU Ambassador in Sudan, the overall Commander of the MONUC forces in DRC (1,218 South Africans), and Brig-Gen Satya, brigade Commander in the DRC.
Gen Ngwenya reports that without exception, all these individuals attest to the outstanding contribution National Defence Force members have made and continue to make.

I quote from his report:
“2 SAI Battalion Commander, Lt Col Sereko was singled out for praise for being a leader who ventured into territory where no other nation was prepared to go. The discipline of the RSA forces was also mentioned as exemplary.”

What must further be placed on record is that National Defence Force is ready to act, not on behalf of, but together with other countries of our region and continent. To this end we are ready to expand joint training and joint military exercises with other regional defence forces.

We must open up on this front in order best to capacitate our neighbours so as to enable them to join with us in future missions of the region and of the continent.

Added to this is our abiding responsibility to strengthen SADC headquarters and other relevant structures by both seconding staff and contributing technically.

Our relations however, with sister regional states is a two way process. We have begun to benefit from the Regional Peace Center in Harare, Zimbabwe, which is a SADC institution. Our Air Force has recently welcomed six Zimbabwean Air Force Pilots and six Zimbabwean Air Force technicians to assist us with the training of our own young people.

We have seconded a full time military officer to serve at the United Nations HQ in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The United Nations is an important area of operation for South Africa. On broader defence issues there is a lot of interaction between the different countries of the world. It is also an important forum for us to put forward our views, and to listen to the views of others.

With all the successful deployments of the SANDF, we are ready to sustain the Continental peace processes because they must eventually lock into the NEPAD process of development. We are at all times working to ensure that peace is sustained and that our achievements are not undermined.

These peacekeeping operations are conducted and managed in such a manner that the possibilities of peace are firmly laid.

We are indeed ready and breaking new ground every day both on the Continent and in the region. Our work with SADC is progressing well, and we are now in the process of seconding full time officials from the Department of Defence into SADC and its Inter State Defence & Security Committee structures in order to build our regional capacity and empower these structures.
We have begun a process of seconding officials from the Department of Defence in the Peace and Security Committee of the AU.

The SADC Brigade, the regional component of the Africa Standby Force, is moving according to plan and we are hoping it will be fully operational by the middle of 2006. The functioning of this Brigade will be a great step forward in the development of SADC.

Our Constitutional mandate also directs that the “defence force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force.

It must be capable of training and preparing men and women who will be imbued with skills to fit into all the deployments at home and abroad.

Based on our experiences in peacekeeping, the Strategic Business Plan, tabled in Parliament last week, reports that:

“At present the most important risks to the combat readiness of the SA Army remain within the human resources and logistic domains of the landward defence programme”

In order to meet our ‘readiness’ requirements, two years ago we embarked on the re-organisation of the top level of the Department. We have to get the balance right between the needs of the Public Finance Management Act and clear accountability, within the framework of command and control.

The re-structuring focuses on the areas of logistics and human resources wherein lie our most serious challenges.
I believe that we have now found the correct formula to respond to this challenge. Nevertheless the Deputy Minister will talk on this issue later on.

We have taken serious count of the last report of the Auditor General and recognize the gravity of qualified audits. I would like to report to the House that the Accounting Officer, the Defence Secretary, has identified areas where there are problems, and he has proposed to the Minister and the Department, plans to address and solve those problems.

Furthermore, the review of the Defence Review is nearing completion. The complexity of budgeting for a new force structure and design pushed our time frame to the right and the work took longer than we thought. But we are back on track and expecting to present to Parliament after the Winter recess.

Within the Department of Defence our concentration is on training – relevant training. Training which will prepare our men and women to execute those functions which will produce the desired results.
Such training must include dispute resolution skills. It must imbue our men and women with the skills to initiate post conflict reconstruction activities.

This must be so because peacekeeping is more than just keeping warring factions apart. On a daily basis peacekeepers need to do things which are not normally considered “military”. In short, peacekeepers need to be trained in a range of skills that articulate responsibilities that go beyond the comfort zone of the military base and military barracks. In many ways, modern peacekeeping is a much more difficult task than fighting wars.

The lessons drawn from other peacekeeping deployments are being incorporated into our training programmes at different levels.

Training must be aimed at improving our effectiveness. We are fully utilizing the expertise within the different sections of Government and work closely with the other Departments in our cluster.

We are contributing to the national reservoir of skills. These skills will be taken back into society. Within the context of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA), we are contributing to skills development where we train the youth in various life skills. We are forging relations with the Department of Labour and the Dept of Education to discuss joint initiatives like training. We are re-opening some capabilities that were mothballed and in doing so we are training our own young people and thus increasing our capacity.

The great Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, writing on war 2,500 years ago said:
“one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes be victorious, sometimes meet with defeat. One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement”

In the current African scenario, and for the foreseeable future, our greatest and most urgent enemies are poverty, underdevelopment, and environmental degradation.

We understand that the roots of conflict on our Continent arise from these problems. We have come to realize that the thrust of our preparations should aim at the culmination of the defeat of these evils. And to be successful we need a more ‘flexible force’. A force which is multi skilled.

It is in this context that the South African Army, has embarked on its own transformation exercise, Vision 2020, to achieve this end. Army Vision 2020 is an in-house plan to address the transformation of the biggest component of the SANDF, the Army. It is our belief that it will reach maturity in 2020.

May I report further on some exciting progress on the Reserve Force front.

Under the able leadership of General Anderson and the Reserve Force Council, two Reserve Force infantry companies have been successfully deployed alongside the Permanent Force in peace support operations in DRC and it is planned to deploy a minimum of a further two companies in 2006.

29 officers and 40 Non Commissioned Officers successfully completed their courses in 2005. A further 100 officers and 80 NCOs will be trained in 2006 thereby accelerating the rejuvenation process and improving representivity.

To date, 1,200 members of the Commandos have elected to transfer to the Reserve Force and will undergo conversion training in the next year.

We have committed ourselves, in the Strategic Business Plan to ensuring that the commissioning of the Strategic Defence Package equipment is implemented within the budgetary guidelines and that the new equipment is fully integrated and functional within SANDF doctrine over time.

May I pause to announce that on Wednesday we hosted members of the Defence Committees of Parliament on board one of our new corvettes, the ‘Spienkop’ for the limited purpose of demonstrating to them the efficacy of this new equipment.

It is not for me to comment at length of their experiences there. Suffice it to say that the new equipment will be employed expediently and in such a manner that safety and security are enhanced in the region. We are also ensuring that representivity is achieved through the training for the new capabilities .

The SA Navy patrol corvettes are in the process of being integrated into service and are being prepared for operational deployment at home and in the Continent. The first, SAS AMATOLA, was handed over to the SA Navy in February 2006. Similarly the arrival of the Navy’s first Type 209 Mod SA submarine on 7 April 2006 is eagerly awaited.

Our Constitutional mandate to “Support the People of SA” is being demonstrated by our continued support for Government activities and initiatives like the securing of major events i.e. local elections, soccer world cup 2010 and national events like Youth Day, Woman’s Day etc.

The SAS Drakensberg is on her way to Cape Town, with the rotor for Koeberg, which will switch on the lights in Cape Town!

Work on the re-organisation of the Defence Industry is now in full swing.

Together with the Department of Public Enterprises, we have set up work groups to re-examine and align the interactions between Armscor and Denel. This may result in amendments to the Armscor Act. The DOD is looking at Denel’s re-structuring to ensure alignment with the requirements of the DOD.

The DOD requires a defence industry that is able to maintain strategic capabilities.
We are aiming for an Industry relationship that allows the SANDF to maintain and develop those strategic and niche capabilities that secure our sovereignty and ensure our ability to sustain our industry’s consumables without being dependent on others. The South African industry is the largest and most sophisticated in Africa and we must jealously safeguard it in order to preserve our Continental interests.

Emanating from our Strategic work sessions, and guided by our environmental scan, we have allocated the following monies as our Ministerial priorities for 2006/7
• Military skills development system – RM100
(An intake of 4,300 is planned for 2006 which will bring MSD System members strength to 9 500 for FY 2007/7)
• renewal of DOD information and communication systems RM50
• enhancing the capability of defence intelligence services – RM121
• readiness and serviceability of operational vehicles – RM RM150
• defence infrastructure – RM10
• expanded anti – retroviral rollout – RM26

I would like to thank the Deputy Minister for his contribution and support over the last year. He has supported me give leadership to the Department especially on the broader transformational issues.

My thanks to the three Parliamentary Defence Committees who work hard to perform effective oversight of the defence function.

I would also like to thank the Defence Secretary, Mr. January Masilela, the Chief of the SANDF General Ngwenya, the leadership of the DOD as represented in the Plenary Defence Staff Council, and my staff in the Ministry.

I need to acknowledge and thank the Chairperson and Board of Armscor, who continue to grapple with the intricate issues of the transformation of Armscor and the acquisition process.

My special thanks, as always, go to the rank and file, the men and women of the SANDF, who make our country as a whole, so proud.

If the DOD is ready, able, and more than willing to ensure peace and security across the Continent it is because these are the people who are ready to serve whenever, wherever they are called upon.

I thank you.