ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE, THE HONOURABLE MOSIUOA LEKOTA

 MEDIA BREAKFAST AT DEFENCE HEADQUARTERS, PRETORIA: 05 SEPTEMBER 2005

 Secretary for Defence, Mr January Masilela, Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Solly Shoke, Chief of the SA Air Force, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano, Chief of the SA Navy, Rear Admiral Mudimu, Surgeon General, Lt Gen Vejay Ramlakan, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

 South Africa is safe. We have a South African National Defence Force that is capable, willing and ready to execute its Constitutional mandate. We have maintained core capabilities that can be expanded to face possible threats. This, because the SANDF must firstly be judged on its primary responsibility to defend the sovereignty of the country, secondly on its secondary responsibility to support the SA Police Service and other security agencies and finally its performance on external peacekeeping missions.

 Whereas the Department had in the past reported a decline in the state of readiness of the SANDF, due to among others, the age of the equipment of the SANDF, this has since been stabilised.

 We are on track in building and re-equipping the SANDF for both its primary and secondary roles.

 Over the last five years we have been building and equipping the SA Air Force and the SA Navy. Now the focus is on the modernisation of armaments and equipment for landward defence.

 We are doing this in line with our Force Design as well as our military doctrine.

 After attaining our freedom and democracy the country agreed that we needed a National Defence Force with a defensive posture as opposed to an offensive one. An offensive posture that antagonised our neighbours in the region and beyond. We have now been accepted by the region and continent as a National Defence Force that can protect and defend lives. We have moved from being an outcast to being a trusted member of the countries of the region, the continent and beyond.

Working within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) we adopted the SADC Protocol in terms of which the countries of our region agreed to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.

 Flowing from this the SADC Mutual Defence Pact, ratified by South Africa and other Member States, is another instrument through which peaceful co-existence is maintained in the region.

 In addition, the demise of the Cold War has minimised the prospects of inter-state conflicts that characterised the continent and the world. In general, the prospects of long-lasting world peace are greater today than before. As a member of the International Community South Africa can only benefit from this.

 Apart from our primary role of defending the country and its people our secondary role include the provision of support to the Government’s diplomatic initiatives to help build peace and stability in the region and continent.

 To this end the Department of Defence (DOD) is also building a National Defence Force with capabilities commensurate with the new reality. A National Defence Force whose capabilities are mission and tasks driven.

 A National Defence Force with capabilities that will ensure that, working with our neighbours in the region, we will contribute meaningfully to the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union for the benefit of all who live in it.

 We also recognise the fact that our success to develop a lean, technologically equipped National Defence Force lies in the main with our Human Resource component. To this effect the DOD has embarked on Human Resource Strategy 2010.

 HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY 2010

 This strategy is our driving force towards the rejuvenation of the SA National Defence Force. Supporting this strategy are the following DOD initiatives:

 MILITARY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM

 The Military Skills Development System is to ensure a continuous intake of young deserving, healthy South Africans into the SA National Defence Force. This is to rejuvenate the Regular Force and supply the Reserve Force. Furthermore the MSDS does not only provide young South Africans with military skills, it also contributes to their social upliftment by providing them with skills that they will use in their civilian life after completing their military service. It also provides our youth with employment opportunities. Currently we are providing opportunities for 6000 young South Africans in the SANDF. This figure is expected to grow to 10 000 in two years time.

 165 Officers graduated from the Military academy in 2004.

 Age profile of soldiers between 18 and 24 years old in the SANDF improved from 7.1% in December 2002 to 32,5% in July 2005.

 Long term planning intakes of at least 7000 per annum, ultimately 10 000.

 Gender Composition: 30% female; 70% male

 YOUTH FOUNDATION TRAINING PROGRAMME

 Recognising our past where young black South Africans were provided with inferior education, in 2001 we introduced the Youth Foundation Training Programme. This programme provides school leavers from previously disadvantaged communities with the opportunity to upgrade their matric subjects in maths, physical science, biology and geography. Upon completion of the programme, successful students are provided with the opportunity to register with institutions of Higher Learning to pursue studies in the fields of, among others, medicine and engineering. Since its inception, the programme has produced tremendous results.

 The Youth Foundation Training Programme is a critical vehicle to ensure continuous supply of competent personnel in specialist musterings such as engineering, pilots, doctors and navy combat officers among others. During the current financial year, the DOD will spend R11M on two hundred and twenty-five (225) learners registered with the programme.

  883 members have already completed the programme since 2001.

 715 members were appointed in the DOD.

   THE MOBILITY EXIT MECHANISM. 

The Mobility Exit Mechanism (MEM) is a critical tool for the DOD to expedite the rightsizing and the rejuvenation of its human resource composition over the medium term. I must however state that the Mobility Exit Mechanism is not a retrenchment tool as members who choose to accept it as an option, are provided with opportunities to either migrate to other government departments or accept the severance packages.

 DOD downsized its HR component from 101353 in 1996 to the current 76 000 without retrenchments.

 During the current financial year more than 1000 members of the DOD have applied to exit the Department.

 EXTERNAL DEPLOYMENTS

 A mission ready National Defence Force is key if the Department of Defence is to succeed in its support to Government’s diplomatic initiatives to help eradicate conflicts in the region and continent. The SANDF is already contributing a large number of its members to peacekeeping missions of the African Union and the United Nations. We do this because we are convinced that our peace, security and stability as well as our economic prosperity is linked to that of the region and continent.

 Working with our neighbours in the region, through the African Union and the United Nations, members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are deployed in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur in Sudan as well as in Eritrea/ Ethiopia, Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

 BURUNDI

 Since our first deployment to Burundi during October 2001 the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has gained valuable experience, exposure and confidence in peacekeeping missions,

 The deployment to Burundi of the SA Protection and Support Detachment was groundbreaking in that South Africa deployed in own initiative without an AU or UN mandate. This, because at the time there was no peace agreement entered into between the warring factions. The fact that the returning political leaders in Burundi could return from exile and be sufficiently protected by members of the SANDF ensured that the political process could start from a firm base.

 Subsequently, South Africa was joined by Ethiopia and Mozambique. It is pleasing to state that when the mission was taken over by the AU in 2003 a member of the SANDF, Lieutenant General Sipho Binda, was appointed as AU Force Commander. When the UN took charge of the Mission it appointed Major General Derick Mgwebi, as the UN Force Commander, also a member of the SANDF.

 Working with our fellow African countries, the South African National Defence Force was able to help the Barundi achieve their hard earned peace. Recognising the role played by the country and the SANDF as midwife of peace in Burundi, the Star of 25 August 2005 said in its headline “The dream team that peddled peace”.

In its editorial of 26 August 2005 under the heading “SA’s moment of glory” the Star wrote, “Part of the agreement was that South Africa would provide troops to protect politicians, many returning from exile. With up to 1600 troops in Burundi at one time, the military presence was crucial to ensuring stability for any future agreements, especially in a country which had seen its fair share of coups.”

 DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

 The International Community showed trust and confidence in our military when the UN called upon South Africa to provide a specialist contingent of Cargo Handling Teams and Fire fighters from the SANDF to help it establish the necessary infrastructure in order for it to operate its peace mission. This confidence escalated when we were further called upon to participate fully in the peacekeeping mission in the DRC by providing more troops.

 With more than 1300 SANDF members deployed in the DRC this is our biggest deployment and the most challenging.  I am proud to say that our men and women in arms deployed in that country have distinguished themselves above expectations. This was evident, when as part of the UN peacekeeping contingent; they quelled a crisis in the north-eastern part of the DRC, in the process preventing possible genocidal consequences.

 Because of the high standard of our soldiers, it is not surprising that the UN appointed a SANDF member, Brigadier General Duma Mdutyana, with the daunting task to plan and lead, as the sector commander, stabilizing operations in the eastern part of the DRC.

 In keeping with the concept of a common integrated approach other government departments are assisting the Congolese interim government to rebuild the country. These include Departments of Public Service and Administration, Home Affairs and the SA Police Service.

 Furthermore over and above our troop contribution to the UN, the Department of Defence (DOD) has deployed 40 SANDF members to help with the integration of the Congolese National Defence Force. This is in terms of a bi-lateral agreement between the Departments of Defence of the two countries.

 SUDAN

 Similarly members of the SANDF are deployed under the auspices of the African Union with other African countries. Through the efforts of the people of Sudan, working with the AU, we are convinced that they will soon achieve their objectives of having a lasting peace and stability in their country.

COUNTRY

NUMBER OF TROOPS

AUTHORITY

DRC

1351

UN

BURUNDI

1266

UN

ERITREA/ETHIOPIA AS OBSERVERS

7

UN

SUDAN AS OBSERVERS

325

AU

IVORY COAST AS MILITARY ADVISORS AND MONITORING TEAM

30

UN

 THE SADC BRIGADE AND THE AFRICAN UNION STANDBY FORCE 

The Department of Defence is playing a major role in the developments of the SADC Brigade and the African Union Standby Force which, once in place, will provide the African continent with its own ability to intervene rapidly in future to avert conflicts of the nature that characterised the continent during the Cold War years and beyond.

 I am delighted to inform you that the SADC Brigade has finalised its structure and Member States have pledged forces in excess of 6000 soldiers to it. This is testimony that the approach and attitude within SADC to make a success of the African Union Standby Force is very positive.

In June this year, Exercise Thokgamo, a joint SADC military exercise took place in Botswana as part of steps to concretise the SADC Brigade and to give all participating forces practical experience in peace support operations.

CONCLUSION

Whilst continuing along the difficult path of aligning our mandate and tasks with our budget, especially, but not exclusively, with regard to our increased yet necessary participation in peacekeeping missions of the AU and the UN, our nation can be truly proud of its National Defence Force whose professionalism and discipline is recognised the world over.

 Through the commitment of the men and women of the Department of Defence we will be participating fully in whatever our country calls upon us to do in our quest for peace and stability for a safer South Africa and a better world.

The SANDF is ready to fulfil its primary role, to defend the country as mandated by the Constitution.

 I thank you.