Honourable Chairperson, Minister and Members

The United Democratic Movement support budget vote 19 on Defence and Military Veterans.

In appreciation of the work of the Defence Force Service Commission, which has been presented to this parliament previously and being privileged to be its member; I would like to appeal to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, to convene a brainstorming session involving the Minister, Commission, Secretary for Defence and the Command element of the defence force.

Such a session must consider the effectiveness or otherwise of the Defence Force Service Commission in particular with respect to the promise made to soldiers; that its powers will be equivalent to that of the Public Service Commission instead of being an advisory body to the Minister.

It should be remembered that one of the burning issues at the time and continues to be, is that soldiers are not part of the Public Service Bargaining Council.

The funding of this department has been a cause for concern for a long time. However, delays in processing the South African Defence Review make it difficult to resolve this critical matter.

More effort must be towards the finalisation of the Defence Review Implementation Plan so that it can be presented to parliament within a period of three months.

Further delays may necessitate the review of the defence operations both locally and abroad. In this regard, we believe that the security of South Africa is a priority in everything that our defence force is doing.

I have, at pains experienced unnecessary delays in receiving feedback from the department on the reports we generate and submit in accordance with the mandate of the Defence Force Service Commission. These delays are due to the fact that the Minister and the Accounting Officer are frequently outside of the country.
We call upon the Minister and Secretary for Defence, the Accounting Officer, to put moratorium on their frequent travelling outside of the country.

I thank you