Source: Business Day
ON THE LOOKOUT: Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, left, and defence committee chairman Roelf Meyer at the launch of the defence review process announcement yesterday. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
The changed environment in Africa and southern Africa — particularly with reference to the civil uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East — would inform the new defence review to design a new defence policy for SA, the newly appointed chairman of the defence committee, Roelf Meyer, said yesterday.
Mr Meyer and his team were introduced to the nation yesterday by Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu . The common understanding is that the defence posture established in 1998 was no longer relevant to a changing continent.
The present situation is a defence force that is underfunded and short of the skilled personnel it needs to operate its sophisticated equipment.
Ms Sisulu told the news briefing « the continental environment has also been overtaken by a number of elements that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) must now operate under », including the formation of the African Union (AU) and the creation of the AU’s Peace and Security Council and its organs, and the creation of the African Standby Force.
« There is also an emergent conviction that regional and sub- regional organisations must take more responsibility for managing the conflict in their neighbourhoods. This implies a greater role for the AU and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in managing regional conflict.
« Therefore, equally driving the need to update SA’s defence policy is the importance allocated to stabilising parts of the African continent, » Ms Sisulu said.
Mr Meyer, a pre-1994 defence minister, said: « Clearly, one of our first tasks will be the development of an understanding of the nexus between national security, foreign policy and defence policy.
« At the international level, security objectives include the defence of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the South African state, and the promotion of regional and continental security in southern Africa. »
Mr Meyer said that in recent weeks the review committee had started extensive engagements with sections of the defence force « to obtain an understanding of their strategic intent and the challenges that face them ».
« We are also giving attention to the current operational deployments of the SANDF. To this end we recently visited units conducting border safeguarding operations in the Lesotho and Free State area.
« Later this week the committee will be visiting the border safeguarding deployments in the Mussina area. In September, we will be visiting the SANDF deployments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, and we are also planning a specific engagement with both the Sadc secretariat and the AU Commission to obtain an understanding of the regional and continental expectations of the SANDF. »
The other members of the committee are Thandi Modise, premier of North West; ambassador Thenjiwe Mtintso; Moses Khanyile; Phandelani Motoma; a Dr Gulube ; Nonkonzo Molai; Col G Seape; Nick Sendall; Helmoed Heitman; Adm Philip Schoultz; Tony Yengeni; Godfrey Giles and Charles Nqakula .
By Wyndham Hartley