minister of defence
deputy minister of defence
speeches
 

Budget Speech 2006

READINESS MUST BE RELEVANT

The President of the Palestinian Authority, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, will this afternoon address us. His visit includes a mission to tap into South Africa’s and other relevant national experiences of conflict resolution and maintenance of enduring and sustainable peace.

This highlights the significance our national profile has assumed in the search for peace in Africa and around the world. It explains why, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), we are now formulating a new White Paper on International Peacekeeping. This White Paper will draw mainly, but not exclusively, from our accumulated experiences in peacekeeping.

RELEVANCE OF READINESS

Madame Speaker, this immediately brings us face-to-face with the ever present question of readiness of the National Defence Force.

In order the best to respond to this concern we must ask the question: READY TO DO WHAT?

We must proceed from there because readiness:
(i) must proceed from the constitutional mandate placed on our shoulders;
(ii) must be linked to challenges (unforeseen sometimes) which might arise
(iii) flow from objectives that our government must achieve and

Madame Speaker, it is my submission this morning, that the National Defence Force is not only ready but will continue to be readier in the year (and years ahead).

READY TO DO WHAT?
In so far as national security is a function first of diplomacy and secondly of the military, we are ready beyond our borders and shores to reinforce all diplomatic missions our nation undertakes. We are busy with this critical defence function.

Since the democratization of our country and the consequent isolation of our nation from the community of nations, RSA made a paradigm shift from the mentality of the apartheid years. We think now with the mind of a free nation at liberty to participate with other nations of the world. We not only enter but are welcomed as a partner in all fora. Consequently, our planning knows no bounds!

But we are not drunk with the excitement of this dawn of a new era. We proceed into the wider world with the necessary prudence of one who understands the limitations of their situation and therefore especially that priorities have to be chosen carefully.

In this paradigm Africa remains the priority and central area of focus in the conduct of our foreign policy initiatives: Therefore we are ready to reinforce continental and regional structures, in particular, the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In this regard, we are working closely with DFA on a programme to strengthen bilateral relations in execution of the Cabinet decision of 2002 to ensure representation in each African country.

The Department of Defence (DOD) is already busy working to match DFA’s ambassadorial postings with our own postings of Defence Attaches (DA) in order to provide sorely needed defence input in the arsenal of diplomatic work. To date the DoD has deployed fourteen Defence Attaches in Africa. We intend to catch up with the diplomatic postings of DFA and then keep pace and are planning to increase this number so that by the end of 2008 we will have a total of 29 defence attaches on the Continent.

READY TO DO WHAT?

We are ready to support South Africa’s goal of promoting peace, democracy and good governance in the continent!

Stability is key to the attainment of this goal and that is why the National Defence Force carried out the mission to secure Barundi leaders, and led the African Union Mission in Burundi (AMIB). After the recent democratic elections in that country, the SANDF continues to sustain the burgeoning democracy there.

As institutions of governance firm up, the economy of that country revives and national life normalizes, the SANDF will be withdrawn and be available for deployment in new areas of concern.

May I take this opportunity to inform the House that the Ministry shall, in the near future, approach the President of the Republic and (Commander-In-Chief of the National Defence Force) to take time and pay tribute to the members who made the Burundi mission the proud success it is today.

Madame Speaker;

We are ready to continue to support the UN, through MONUC deployments, to sustain the stability of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Yes, Madame Speaker, we are relevantly ready, as indeed we are already at work, to help secure elections and promote democracy in the DRC by finalizing the integration of the armed forces of an emerging unified and democratic DR Congo.

We, in collaboration with friendly countries, have already registered and identified more than six battalions of that country’s forces in preparation for the security of the Presidential Elections on the 18th June

In keeping with the SADC commitments we are giving all necessary support to the SADC Organ in order to ensure that sister regional countries not only own the process but actively make available what additional support may become necessary for the success of the DRC process.

Madame Speaker, very recently, Cabinet approved the deployment of South African troops to the Comoros to secure the holding of true and fair elections there. The Command of the National Defence Force promptly ordered the deployment of some 371 troops to that country.

Madam Speaker, we are ready and are supporting stability missions in Darfur, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Presently the National Defence Force is already assisting the reunification of the armed forces of the Cote D’Ivoire through technical advice to the AU Mediation team as well as to the Chiefs of Staff as to how to go about the Disarmarment, Demobilisation and Reintegration process (DDR).

In all of these missions the National Defence Force has deployed in these theatres of conflict and tension, some 3,293 men and women, together with the concomitant equipment.

But the readiness of the National Defence Force has to be measured also in terms of its performance.

We exist for the purposes of executing successful missions. The success of its operations is the only way in which the Department of Defence is assessed and judged by our Government, other Governments, and the international public.

In this regard, I place on record that the Chief of the SANDF, General Ngwenya last week returned from a tour of the operational areas, in an upbeat mood.

He reported that he met the UN Special Representative in Burundi, the Chief of Staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the UN Force Commander in Sudan, the AU Ambassador in Sudan, the overall Commander of the MONUC forces in DRC (1,218 South Africans), and Brig-Gen Satya, brigade Commander in the DRC.
Gen Ngwenya reports that without exception, all these individuals attest to the outstanding contribution National Defence Force members have made and continue to make.

I quote from his report:
“2 SAI Battalion Commander, Lt Col Sereko was singled out for praise for being a leader who ventured into territory where no other nation was prepared to go. The discipline of the RSA forces was also mentioned as exemplary.”

What must further be placed on record is that National Defence Force is ready to act, not on behalf of, but together with other countries of our region and continent. To this end we are ready to expand joint training and joint military exercises with other regional defence forces.

We must open up on this front in order best to capacitate our neighbours so as to enable them to join with us in future missions of the region and of the continent.

Added to this is our abiding responsibility to strengthen SADC headquarters and other relevant structures by both seconding staff and contributing technically.

Our relations however, with sister regional states is a two way process. We have begun to benefit from the Regional Peace Center in Harare, Zimbabwe, which is a SADC institution. Our Air Force has recently welcomed six Zimbabwean Air Force Pilots and six Zimbabwean Air Force technicians to assist us with the training of our own young people.

We have seconded a full time military officer to serve at the United Nations HQ in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The United Nations is an important area of operation for South Africa. On broader defence issues there is a lot of interaction between the different countries of the world. It is also an important forum for us to put forward our views, and to listen to the views of others.

With all the successful deployments of the SANDF, we are ready to sustain the Continental peace processes because they must eventually lock into the NEPAD process of development. We are at all times working to ensure that peace is sustained and that our achievements are not undermined.

These peacekeeping operations are conducted and managed in such a manner that the possibilities of peace are firmly laid.

We are indeed ready and breaking new ground every day both on the Continent and in the region. Our work with SADC is progressing well, and we are now in the process of seconding full time officials from the Department of Defence into SADC and its Inter State Defence & Security Committee structures in order to build our regional capacity and empower these structures.
We have begun a process of seconding officials from the Department of Defence in the Peace and Security Committee of the AU.

The SADC Brigade, the regional component of the Africa Standby Force, is moving according to plan and we are hoping it will be fully operational by the middle of 2006. The functioning of this Brigade will be a great step forward in the development of SADC.

Our Constitutional mandate also directs that the “defence force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force.

It must be capable of training and preparing men and women who will be imb