Treasury exposes financial rot in Defence – Kobus Marais

DA MP says instead of taking lead in resolving the issues, the army generals choose to sip vodka in Russia

While army generals sip vodka in Russia, Treasury exposes the financial rot in Defence

17 May 2023

In a presentation before the portfolio committee on Defence, National Treasury painted a shocking picture on the sad state of affairs within the Defence Force– from continued irregular expenditure to lack of strategic leadership on the prudent use of the defence budget.

Instead of taking lead in resolving these issues, which are contributing to the terminal decline of the force and affecting its defence readiness, we recently learned that the Defence commander - Lt. Gen. Lawrence Mbatha, chose to go and express solidarity with the Russian army, despite their ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine.

Then again, Lt. Gen. Mbatha’s foreign trip forms part of the growing waste of money that continue to blight the Defence’s finances. Treasury revealed that the Defence spends R1,5 billion travelling both domestically and internationally. Treasury warned that unless steps are taken to cut back on travel costs, the army will struggle to stabilize its finances.

Other areas of concern raised by Treasury include:

The department has incurred significant amounts irregular expenditure over the past 5 years;

Despite a drop in headcount within the army, there is still a yearly Compensation of Employees (CEO) overspend of R 2.9 billion on personnel costs, money that was not budgeted for;

The expenditure on overtime has been growing steadily over the years which may indicate lack of control over this expenditure item;

Holding of the Armed Forces Day annually must be reviewed. There is no legislative provision requiring the SANDF to host the Armed Forces Day every year;

Armscor and Denel should be merged to save costs on corporate services; and

Reduce the number of Defence Attaché offices About R320 million is spent annually on Defence foreign relation issues.

What Treasury revealed in its presentation is ill discipline and lack of political management to bring about the much needed turnaround. While the army fails to prioritise R2.5 billion for the essential midlife upgrades of Frigates, they are prepared to overspend on employee costs on a yearly basis.

The national army is in ICU and there is no leadership to turn it around, either from the Minister of Defence or command element of the armed forces.

Issued by Kobus Marais, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, 17 May 2023