Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: Budget Vote 22 – Defence (23 May 2013)

Mister Speaker, honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers and Honourable Members,

The UDM supports Budget Vote 22.

President Zuma’s decision to reshuffle the cabinet a few months ago slowed down the progress the Department had made since 2009. The inordinate amount of time the Department is taking to finalise the Defence Review and the appointment of permanent Defence Force Service Commissioners bears testimony to this.

When questioned about this delay, the Department often tells us that the Minister is still busy familiarising herself with the Department. The question is: “How long does it take for the Honourable Minister to familiarise herself with her Department?”

This House will recall that the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission tabled a report which recommended that Government reviews the 1998 Defence Review with a view to allocate adequate resources to the task of building an effective Defence Force, among others. This is particularly critical in the light of our obligations and mandate to maintain peace and stability here at home and on the Continent.
Honourable Minister,

The Nation is concerned about the fact that you are spending most of your time out of the country attending to some insignificant issues, rather than in the country running your Department. If the majority of your trips had any significance, the Department would have benefited from them.
With regards to your overseas trips, the UDM is still considering where to direct a sensitive question about the close proximity of a UK-based company and a certain Zimbabwean citizen to your office.

Your failure to prioritise the Department and its needs could be seen in the dismal manner in which you handled the Central African Republic (CAR) fiasco. Whilst you were busy gallivanting around Durban during the Brics bash, our troops were engaged in a 13 hour battle with the rebels in the CAR.

You did not even deem it appropriate to leave the bash and join the SANDF Commanders in Pretoria. It took almost 48 hours to hear from you.

Honourable Minister, you failed to provide leadership in the CAR fiasco in that you have thus far neither established a board of inquiry to look into the matter, nor have you briefed this House on your Department’s Operational Report on it, if there is any.

Thank you.