November 25, 2003

Defence seeks more funds

Parliament's joint budget committee is concerned about the ability of the defence department to meet its growing commitments in Africa on a limited budget. Over the past two weeks the committee has heard departmental officials outline their budget priorities and spending plans over the next three years.

The report noted that the South African National Defence Force's (SANDF's) role in Africa was essential, but it was equally necessary that it maintain the readiness of its forces at home. More generally, the committee was concerned with the inability of some departments to implement their progressive policies. Its report recommended that Parliament continue to monitor their capacity to do so.

Defence officials noted the increasingly intensive role of the SANDF in South Africa's intra-African relations particularly in the context of the formation of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development. There are three SANDF battalions made up of 3.000 soldiers deployed in five African countries currently. While they were functioning well, they suffered from depleted stocks and lack of adequate equipment. The officials appealed for a mechanism of contingency funding for the military in line with best international practice. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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