South Africa – since 1994, the annual defense budget debate in Parliament has shown support from across all the parties to increase the allocated amount for defense spending. Over the years, the broad gap between what the government expects and what the South African Defense force (SADF) spends escalates. It is a drastic situation with key elements not been funded and in all probability there will be no defense force if the consistent spending of allocated funds are continually abused.
The amount of money allocated to the defense force is not controlled. Implementation of stricter controls and management of these funds are required urgently to ensure a stable defense force. Raising the accountability of the organization’s monthly overheads and ensuring there are contingency funds for any unexpected events, where the SADF would be required to assist in an emergency.
Stricter capital budget acquisitions and bringing the complex financial control system and allocating the defense budget into specific formation are critical. It remains unknown if the additional posts created after 1994 are still necessary after 19 years. An analysis of a possible duplication between soldiers and administration staff will result in firmer controls of unnecessary expenditure within the SADF. For South Africa to maintain a defense force, drastic action is required.
Several events during the past six months where the South African Defense Force assisted with missions around the African Continent raise concerns. The armored vehicles our forces used in these missions were inappropriate for certain areas and do not give the protection needed against heavily armed hostile groups. The situation in Central African Republic (CAR) recently, with the killing of 13 soldiers remains another matter to debate, and whether they forces had sufficient protection, and training for these types of attacks. Questions regarding the under-funding by the defense force that it could not provide the expertise to deal with this situation.
With the rebel forces on the African Continent becoming more effective and powerful, it is a clear sign that the SADF are not capable of assisting with these missions. They lack the finances to assist with these missions.
An increase of comments on the escalation of corruption within the SADF, and whether the government of South Africa is serious about maintaining the defense force. It is evident that the damage done over the last 19 years will take a long time to recover.
Compromising the safety of our country and making it a vulnerable nation is frightening, and it is time for the government to become actively involved in this situation. The government needs to ensure that the SADF can commit to peacetime operations. Respond to unexpected tasks in a timely manner, and protect our borders continually from opposition forces trying to enter the country. The SADF must reduce the availability of our defense force requests for operations on the African continent.
The entire country is at risk due to the incompetent management of defense force funds.
I wonder if what the old Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian smith said was right “African cannot govern.”
Written by Laura Oneale