Defence Review Committee meets with Soweto residents
By: Kgabo Mashamaite
The Soweto Community members were given an opportunity on 15 August 2012 to contribute towards the future and the administration of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), through the South African Defence Review 2012 public participation programme at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, the home of the Freedom Charter.
The aim of the event was to enable the Defence Review Committee to engage with the broader civil society with a view to achieving possible consensus on the future defence trajectory with key partners, stakeholders and communities around the country.
According to the Committee Chairperson, Mr Roelf Meyer, the community interaction was long overdue.
“Since the inception of the Commission exactly a year ago, the former Minister of Defence and Military Veterans gave us strict guidelines, among which was for us to consult with members of the public in order to update the defence review, which is in line with a democratic process. We should remember that the last review was updated in 1998. Among the requirements are to develop defence policies that will support government priorities and strategic intent and sound policies for determining the blueprint of the defence force design and force structure. It is therefore important to meet with the people to get their inputs for incorporation in the new defence review document” Mr Meyer said.
Dr Moses Khanyile, a Resource Group member, explained the role and functions of the SANDF in line with the Constitution of the Republic.
“The defence review committee is predicated on a few principles, such as the Defence Force being seen as a representative and trusted non-partisan national asset, adhering to sound civil and robust legislative oversight and be fully compliant with national and international law, specifically International Humanitarian Law, statutes, national policy and regulatory frameworks” Dr Khanyile explained.
The event afforded an opportunity to community members such as Mrs Bizwe Mawela to raise their concerns. Mrs Mawela’s concern was the high level of crime in the neighbourhood and she appealed to the committee to get the SANDF to help the South African Police Services to reduce crime levels in the area.
Another member, Ms Nthabiseng Mlangeni, a family member of whom apparently killed and buried in his country of exile, appealed to the committee to assist her family in bringing his mortal remains back for burial with dignity in South Africa. Others also requested the committee to ask top management to assist with essential services such as responding to emergency situations where there was a shortage of medical personnel.
Lt Col (Ret) Godfrey Giles, a Resource Group member of the Defence Review Committee, also appealed to Soweto community members to help the youngsters and encourage them to study so that they could pass with flying colours and thus fill the critical skills gap in the SANDF.