Defence and Military Veterans Budget Vote: Debate 22
By Hon VB Ndlovu MP

 

National Assembly, 13th April 2011

Honourable Speaker

The paramount duty of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans is to defend the borders and people of South Africa.

Our defence veterans, our warriors of old must not be forgotten now that they are too old to serve. They must be given a liveable pension and other benefits. In this regard, the Inkatha Freedom Party seeks clarity on who will qualify to be a veteran and exactly what benefits will accrue to such persons.

Another concern is the ill-treatment of some members of the Defence Force who don’t come from Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) or the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). We hear reports that these members are being treated differently than members originally from MK or APLA and are overlooked when it comes to promotions and benefits within the Defence Force. We ask the Minister to investigate this matter and report back to this house thereon.
The SANDF must continue with its recruitment drives. Advertisements must be prominently displayed in each of our provinces. Our youth who are currently one of the largest segments of our unemployed should be encouraged to spend at least one or two years in the service and defence of their country. The benefits of military service : training, discipline, travel, remuneration and a sense of responsibility and the knowledge that one has been a part of and contributed to something bigger than oneself are just some of the advantages of such training and as such it must be encouraged.

In this respect the National Youth Service Concept must remain one of the departments key priorities. Budget should be made immediately available for this and concrete plans for its implementation debated and agreed upon.

The issue of Trade Unions operating within the Defence force is another issue that must be dealt with immediately and decisively. Trade unions have no place in any Defence Force as they undermine military discipline, divide members and have the overall net effect of weakening the military.

Honourable speaker, there can be only one Commander-In-Chief in any armed force. In our case that is the President, represented herein by the Honourable Minister. Soldiers have to be wholly loyal to the chain of command. Trade Unions weaken that loyalty and by so doing place the lives, not only of soldiers but also of civilians at greater risk and for that reason alone trade unions cannot and should not have any place within our military personnel structures.

The sale of arms and ammunitions to regimes guilty or even reasonably suspected of committing human rights atrocities must be not be allowed to take place under any circumstances. The IFP urges the ministry to carefully scrutinize any requests for arms sales very carefully lest South Africa becomes a party to human rights abuses by states that we have supplied with arms.

In this regard honourable Chairperson the IFP would like to make a request to the NCACC Chairman and Minister of Justice that he keep an eye on what is occurring within the NCACC as the committees oversight controls, which should prohibit the sale of weapons to countries where they may contribute to international repression, human rights violations or were likely to escalate regional military conflicts, seem to be non-existent as is evidenced by the 70 million rand in arms sales by South Africa to Libya in 2010.

Regarding Border security, the IFP welcomes the deployment of troops along our borders, which have become so porous in the last 10 years. This will greatly assist in the reduction of illicit human, animal and goods movement across our borders and also hopefully reduce the instances of Rhino poaching in our National parks situate along our borders. Syndicates operating from bordering countries must be shut down and we believe that our Defence force will do just this!

I thank you.
Hon VB Ndlovu