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Minister asks for R46 billion to be allocated for Defence budget
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Minister asks for R46 billion to be allocated for Defence budget

Budget constraints addressed in Defence Budget Vote

SOUTH AFRICA: Delivering her budget vote yesterday, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula once again stressed the negative impact of a declining budget allocation on the country’s ability to meet its defence obligations.

“The reduction of over 15 Billion rand over the MTEF has placed us in a very difficult position. Our capital budget has effectively been reduced to a trickle and the operating budget is under extreme pressure. Under these conditions, we are finding it very difficult to improve the serviceability of our Prime Mission Equipment,” she noted.

“If we are honest with ourselves, we now face the reality that if we do not intervene in a decisive manner, we will lose our state-owned defence industrial base and the ability to repair, maintain and overhaul most of our defence systems.

“This not only compromises our ability to maintain our current equipment in service, but also fundamentally impacts our longer-term ability to remain relevant and ready to conduct effective operations in the future. Should this happen, we may well find ourselves reliant on foreign powers for our main equipment and this will come at great strategic expense.

“The knock-on effect of this has had dire consequences for the contribution that the defence industry makes to science and technology development, manufacturing, export earnings, education and artisan training, jobs for our people and the economy in general.

Maritime capacity

Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted that the situation was no different within the maritime defence space.

“Whilst we commend the efforts of ARMSCOR to turnaround the dockyard, we are nonetheless finding it difficult to maintain our fleet against the float, sail and fight concept of combat readiness,” she told parliament.

The two naval projects currently underway in South African shipyards, however, did receive special recognition for providing some good news.

“We can report that the Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessel, part of Project BIRO, is progressing under a partial acquisition. The first of three vessels is nearing completion and is on track to be delivered during August this year. The second Vessel will be delivered during September next year. These vessels will improve our ability to protect our maritime resources and our territorial waters,” she said.

The delivery of the Hydrographic Survey Vessel by Sandock Austral Shipyards under Project HOTEL is due for April 2023. “This ship will allow us to meet our obligations to the international community according to the highest international standards,” she said.

Questioning affordability

Concluding her delivery, Mapisa-Nqakula asked; “What kind of Defence Force should South Africa have and what can it afford? What we need is a Defence Force that can influence widely, react swiftly, contain effectively and support efficiently wherever it is deployed.”

In closing she requested the approval of R46,268 billion to allocated to the Department of Defence in terms of Vote 23 this financial year.

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