Address by (MP) Cde Jerome Maake on the Budget Vote Debate for the Department of Defence
17 July 2019
The most important responsibility of a government is to secure its territory and ensure the safety of its citizens. Without this prevalent condition, it is unlikely that the nation-state will develop and mature and the constitutional elements of human security will be in danger.
I think before we can talk about the budget of this department; we need to try and understand the department we are talking about. What actually are the functions and objectives of this department?
Surely most of us just see the uniform and not the people or rather the human beings that are wearing this uniform. Don’t we maybe need to look beyond this uniform and see these people? Who are they? Are they simply instruments, robots or objects with no parents, wives, husbands, children and friends? They are surely one of our own.
Don’t we need to ask ourselves why the military need to have its own police, its own hospitals, its own pension scheme, and its own intelligence?
When things get bad we all say ‘call the army’. Theirs is not to ask the reason why, theirs is just to do and die. Wouldn’t it then be appropriate or at least let them have a bit of a say, just a bit of a say in the allocation of their budget. Only because theirs is just to do and die. Who then determines the budget of this department? Are civilians qualified to determine the budget of these people in uniform?
To go back to my earlier point of why they have their own hospitals, court system, their intelligence etc.
- The types of wounds they sustain are so horrifying that maybe are not to be seen by ordinary citizens.
- Because they are carrying automatic weapons, bombs etc. and if they use them against their own, only a military tribunal will understand the extend of the crime.
- Their own intelligence division, I think that is obvious. You can imagine an airforce pilot who drops a bomb that annuliate a whole village. A civilian magistrate will have a problem in analysing the crime.
The question then still remains, who then must determine the budget of this department?
That is the reason why in the security cluster it becomes a bit difficult even the for opposition to grandstand as we all agree across party lines about the defence and security of the Republic.
If there is an attack in the country, we civilians will ask, why didn’t see it coming? And those responsible within the defence might even be court martialled. What about the budget? Must they cut on the training of their intakes?
Department of Military Veterans
The Department of Military Veterans derives its mandate from the Military Veterans Act (No. 18 of 2011) which requires it to provide national policy and standards on socio-economic support to Military Veterans and their dependants, including benefits and entitlements to help realise a dignified, unified, empowered and self-sufficient community of military veterans.
The Defence Department is instead faced with a situation of a diminishing budget. How then is it expected to fulfil this mandate? This mandate is established exactly because we are here dealing with a unique department that deals with unique people as I explained above.
Can we safely say that this mandate is being implemented? Instead of houses being built for the Veterans, the number of houses which are supposed to be built are decreased. The number of former liberation fighters is not increasing, well rather is not supposed to increase. They are growing old, which means that if you don’t built them houses, organize their Medical Aid, they will be dead before this can be done. Dying an undignified dead, after they have sacrificed so much for the liberation of this country.
We are therefore strongly recommending that there be no reduction in the defence budget. We also recommend that the Amendments to the Military Veterans Act be a priority in order to correct some of the Abnormalities that are currently happening within the Department of Military Veterans.
In support of the National Development Plan, Vision 2030, South Africa’s security policy objectives at an international level include the defence of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political independence of the South African state, and the promotion of regional security. South Africa’s national security objectives continue to encompass the consolidation of democracy, the achievement of a substantial reduction in crime, violence and political instability. Security and development are both inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing, highlighting the role of the South African Security Sector and in particular, the Defence function has to play in creating and development.