24 May 2013
South Africa will continue with its engagements in support of peace and stability in Africa in order to help ensure the food security and survival of the people of the continent, says Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Tabling her department’s budget vote in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Mapisa-Nqakula said that Africa had enough resources to be shared for common prosperity, security and human development. However, poor governance, instability and war threatened the ability of the continent to harness this potential.
War had led to the plundering of African resources. “The continued plundering of these resources is a direct threat to our future food security and survival. It is for this reason that we will continue our engagements in support of peace and stability in the continent.”
The minister said South Africa had pledged to contribute a battalion to an envisaged intervention force for the eastern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Challenges facing the country
The death of 13 soldiers in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), in March, accidents involving military aircraft, and the recent unauthorised use of Waterkloof Air Force Base for private purposes had starkly exposed the challenges facing South Africa’s defence and security environment, Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“In the aftermath of these events, the department has had to conduct deep introspection and review, the result of which will have serious implications for the work and organisation of our armed forces.”
The Defence Review, which is sitting with Cabinet, has taken into consideration some of the weaknesses in tactical planning, design, legislation and operational requirements that had led to these challenges.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was preparing to align its planning activities to accommodate the implementation of the Defence Review’s recommendations.
Lessons learnt in the CAR were also being used to assist the SANDF in planning, preparing forces, and deploying troops in current and future operations.
Because of the Waterkloof incidient, the SANDF was also conducting a review aimed at strengthening weaknesses in command and control, in policy, and in the operating procedures governing the use of its facilities.
On training, Mapisa-Nqakula said that an agreement had been concluded with the Russian Federation to train SANDF members, particularly pilots, in essential skills.
Mapisa-Nqakula said it was a matter of concern that, over the years, South Africa had gradually been losing its influential position as one of the industry leaders in defence innovation.
“It is for this reason that the department must play a direct role in the restructuring of the defence industry to ensure that it focuses primarily on the requirements of the SANDF.”