Honourable Chairperson and Members

The United Democratic Movement supports Budget 19.

As we celebrate Africa Day, we are reminded of the important role played by our soldiers in keeping peace on our continent. I am certain, that their contribution will one day make Africa a continent for all its people and the world-over.

In the context of my responsibility in the Defence Force Service Commission, I invite the Minister and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, to appreciate that:

1. The Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) continues to express its support for the funding of the implementation of the Defence Review 2015. Although the Country is not at war, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) must be appropriately funded to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Notwithstanding the competing societal needs of, amongst others, health and education, there is a critical need for additional funding to the SANDF in order to fulfil its regional and continental obligations as a multilateral player to advance foreign policy.

2. The requisite funding of the Commission’s recommendation with regard to the model to delink salary from rank, will not only improve service conditions of approximately 8 894 SANDF members stagnated at lower ranks, but will serve as a fundamental building block to eventually rollout the envisaged unique salary dispensation for the man and woman in uniform.

3. It is of strategic value for the Minister and the DFSC to hold bilateral meetings regularly, to create opportunity for the Commission to provide progress report in terms of its mandate, and to equally receive regular feedback form the Minister.

Chairperson, the effectiveness of our soldiers in peace keeping missions can be compromised by the quality of the equipment they are using. When the Commission visited Congo, it was exposed to extremely poor quality equipment.

The United Nations would, instead of compensating South Africa for its contribution, penalise it, if something urgent is not done. The Minister needs to intervene urgently on this matter.

Lastly, the budgets of both the Military Ombud and the DFSC, should be ring-fenced in order to ensure that they carry out their functions optimally and without being subjected to the internal delays within the Department.

I thank you