Statement by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Dr Lindiwe Sisulu, MP
21 Sep 2009
In recognition of the distinction between the rest of the public service and the security and intelligence services, legislators have determined that the labour relations act should not be applicable to the Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency and the South African Secret Services. A basis in law was established and during my tenure as Minister of Intelligence, we crafted a separate dispensation for the intelligence services in appreciation and acknowledgement of the distinctive role they play in society. The Defence Force is not any different and Cabinet approved a new dispensation for them.
In addition, the Constitution enjoins us to develop the Defence Force into a disciplined, professional force precisely because of the role it plays as the last bastion to defend democracy and to protect our territorial sovereignty.
Armed with this knowledge and insight, I stated in my budget vote that one of the priorities of my tenure would be to review and improve the conditions of service of our soldiers. I have repeated this commitment in various platforms and audiences. The establishment of this Commission is the latest in a series of steps aimed at this objective.
In my budget vote I stated that:
* I want to assure the Defence Force staff that their conditions of service are a concern. We are seized with the matter and I would like to engage each one of them through the proper management structures to see how we can attend to these. We are acutely aware that the state of readiness of the SANDF depends primarily on the morale of our soldiers
* Having assessed our options, we are considering making a request for a separate dispensation for the Department of Defence that would allow us to creatively deal with our own needs and the specificities of our own unique security requirements.
I am of the considered view that a National Defence Force Service Commission must be established immediately to assist me to deal with these vitally important issues so that our national security is never compromised. This commission will function on an interim basis until a permanent commission is established through legislation.
In appointing this commission, I am mindful of the provisions of the Constitution and section 2 of the Defence Act, 2002, which stipulates, the Minister and any organ of state defined in section 239 of the Constitution, as well as all members of the Defence Force and any auxiliary service and employees, must, in exercising any power or performing any duty in terms of this act, have regard to the following:
* The formulation and execution of defence policy is subject to the authority of Parliament and the national executive
* The primary object of the Defence Force is to defend and protect the republic, its people and its territorial integrity
* The Defence Force must perform its functions in accordance with the Constitution and international law regulating the use of force
* The Defence Force must have a primarily defensive orientation and posture
* No member of the Defence Force may obey a manifestly illegal order
* Neither the Defence Force nor its members may, in the performance of their functions, prejudice a political party interest that is legitimate in terms of the Constitution, or, in a partisan fashion, further any interest of a political party
* The Defence Force must respect the fundamental rights and dignity of its members and of all persons.
I have discussed this matter with the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Cabinet, which endorsed the proposal to establish a National Defence Force Service Commission. Draft legislation, which will establish the commission, is being prepared.
As the creation of the National Defence Force Service Commission (NDFSC) does not fall within the provisions of sub-section 2(a) of the Act, as it does not relate to the formulation and execution of defence policy which is subject to the authority of Parliament and the national executive, I have decided to consult the Portfolio Committee on Defence and to seeks its guidance and assistance on the creation of this commission, in view of the national importance of this issue.
I briefed this committee on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 on my plans and undertook to discuss various aspects of this matter, including the composition of and the appointment of the members of the commission with the Portfolio Committee on Monday, 21 September 2009.
I also have very wide general powers to do all things necessary for the effective defence and protection of the republic and its inhabitants in terms of section 80 of the Act. This includes ensuring that the concerns of members of the SANDF are addressed satisfactorily. This will enable them to fulfil their constitutional and legislative functions. These are to maintain national security, which reflects the resolve of South Africans to live as equals and as a nation, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life.
I must, therefore, make regulations regarding the conditions of service of members of the Defence Force and labour relations between members and the state as their employer, including the resolution of disputes and the establishment of mechanisms necessary for the regulation of the said labour relations and the administration and management of such matters in terms of section 82.
Given the enormity of this task, I am of the view that I need the guidance and assistance of an impartial commission as well as parliament to assist me to formulate appropriate regulations, which will regulate these matters, until such time as the Defence Act is properly amended to make provision for a permanent NDFSC, which will be responsible for considering the issues which affect members of the Defence Force.
The formal appointment procedures of the members and the commission’s terms of reference are being finalised. The commission will be able to commence its work immediately. Among other things, it will consider the following (courtesy of the Moseneke Commission):
* To investigate and make recommendations regarding remuneration and the conditions of service of members of the Defence Force
* To make recommendations to ensure that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in sections 195, 198 and 200 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Defence Act and any other applicable laws and regulations.
The appropriate remuneration, allowances and benefits to be paid to members of the armed forces will require the following:
* An analysis of the purpose, duties, responsibilities, powers and activities attached to the various positions in the armed forces
* The evaluation and grading of all posts
* An analysis of existing conditions of service, salaries, allowances and other benefits before and after tax deductions, pertaining to the Defence Force
* A comparison with compatible positions elsewhere
* The conversion of existing remuneration structure(s) or system(s) to a total remuneration system/structure
* A comprehensive implementation plan and costing for the conversion to the total remuneration structure.
The Commission must interact with the Council of Defence and brief it on its work from time to time. It must also interact with the soldiers through the due protocols of the Defence Force and other relevant role players and interested parties. This will enable the commission to make appropriate recommendations to the executive.
The commission will function until the Defence Act has been amended to create a National Defence Force Service Commission, or such other time as I may decide.
The allowances to be paid to the members of the commission will be determined by me in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
I thank the portfolio committee for its guidance, support and solidarity. I hope that all the role players will work together in a constructive way to address the concerns of members of the Defence Force. In this way we shall achieve our objective of restoring the integrity and reputation of the SANDF as well as instil public confidence in our armed forces, which perform outstanding, work both nationally and internationally and which fills us with pride. I also want to thank the members of the SANDF for their patience, support and solidarity. It is in the light of the above consideration that I, the undersigned Lindiwe N Sisulu, MP, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, do, hereby, announce that I have decided to appoint a National Defence Force Service Commission (NDFSC), on an interim basis, consisting of:
* Judge R Bosielo Chairperson
* Gen B Holomisa
* Mr I Aboobaker
* Mr P Groenewald
* Ms H Mgabadeli
* Professor R Christie
* Dr A Mokgokong
* Gen L Moloi
* Bishop M Mpumlwana
* Professor D Swartz
Cell: 083 645 7838
Tel: 012 355 6106
Issued by: Department of Defence and Military Veterans
21 September 2009
Issued by: Department of Defence
21 Sep 2009
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