Withdrawal of SANDF Commandos in Support of SAPS, SANDF Employment Equity; Swartklip Products Committee Report.
SA PARLIAMENT (QUOTE)
DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
8 February 2005
WITHDRAWAL OF SANDF COMMANDOS IN SUPPORT OF SAPS, SANDF EMPLOYMENT EQUITY; SWARTKLIP PRODUCTS COMMITTEE REPORT
Chairperson: Dr G Koornhof (ANC)
The Committee’s report on Swartklip products was adopted without discussion.
With inputs from Minister Lekota and SAPS, Brigadier-General Haremse briefed the Committee on the withdrawal of SA National Defence Force (SADF) commandos in support of the SA Police Services (SAPS). Minister Lekota stressed the importance of this withdrawal to the process of democratisation. It was imperative that the process left no vacuums throughout its seven phases (due to end in 2009). Delays were expected. The major challenge was setting up a system that would absorb members of the commandos who relied on remuneration for their services. SAPS intended creating a reformed Category D reservist group to meet this challenge, but there were still issues to work out.
Dr M Ledwaba, Brigadier General A De Wit and Colonel D Monethi briefed the Committee on employment equity in the Department. The major challenge, from which a number of other challenges derived, was to create a suitable exit mechanism that would allow members of retirement age to leave the force with appropriate benefits. The delay in this process in the Military bargaining chamber meant it was difficult to promote black staff to middle management positions where that racial group was under represented.
Oversight report – Swartklip products:
The Committee adopted this without discussion.
SANDF/SAPS presentation on phased withdrawal of territorial reserves
The Minister reminded the Committee that the withdrawal of the territorial reserves from policing functions was part of the transformation process. In terms of the Constitution, as highlighted by the President in his 2003 address, there could be only one agency with powers of arrest.
Brigadier-General Haremse described the aim of the process as ‘functional purification’. This would be affected in seven phases, ending in 2009. SANDF/SAPS were executing phase 2, which involved withdrawal from the Namibian and Botswana borderlines and from Rooibokskraal and Swartwater operational bases. Seventeen territorial reserve units would be closed down, of which one unit in each province would serve as a pilot project. The figures for yearly withdrawal of units had been worked out so that there would be no vacuum in any area. Brigadier-General Harmese stressed that the withdrawals might be delayed in certain areas where the SAPS were not ready to take over. A joint SAPS/SANDF implementation team was currently touring provinces to ensure that plan implementation would not result in power vacuums.
There was a detailed Human Resources plan to ensure that commando members were accommodated. They would be allowed opportunities to join the army conventional reserve, the police, and the police reservists. There were still some grey areas regarding the accommodation of commando members and the SANDF was concerned about the future of 16 000 rural black staffmembers of the territorial reserves who relied on their reservist income. The SANDF had lowered its requirements to accommodate this group. As such, the SAPS had considered the creation of a category D reservist group to accommodate these people. SAPS reservist categories were currently voluntary without remuneration and it was deemed unlikely that territorial reservists would be attracted by this option. SAPS had revised their regulations accordingly and the revisions were awaiting approval. It was likely that a budget would be created for Category D reservists.
Captain Smit (SAPS) added that the new system would effect a clean break from the old. There would be four main focus areas: 1) sector policing, 2) rapid response by area crime combating units, 3) increased full police personnel (130 000 by 2007), and 4) recruitment and utilisation of reservists in all these sectors
The SANDF would continue to offer air and maritime support to SAPS.
Department Employment Equity
Colonel D Monethi described the Department’s policy framework, strategic intent, equity monitoring mechanisms, interventions and challenges.
Brigadier-General A De Wit drew attention to a persistent under-representation of black staff in middle management positions (Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier-General). Owing to the Department’s historical inheritance, there was a corresponding under-representation of white staff in entry level positions and a general under-representation of women, especially in senior management positions.
A critical problem was the absence of a suitable exit mechanism. This meant that many members could not leave the Department, which made it difficult to promote black staff to middle management positions. In spite of these problems, progress had been made.
Discussion (SANDF withdrawal)
Mr T Dodovu (ANC) asked for a description of the proposed category D, and wanted to know if the SAPS had budgeted for it. Captain Smit said Category D already existed, except that it was voluntary without remuneration. The appropriate Act did however make provision for the payment of full-time service or training. Category D reservists were presently involved in sector policing, the functions of which were similar to those of Category A reservists. It had been decided to change the functions of Category D reservists. They would now take over the ‘home and hearth’ function previously fulfilled by the commandos. Remuneration, if approved, would come out of the national budget.
Mr B Ntuli (ANC) urged that there should be a tight audit of SANDF resources during the transition period, and asked how abandoned reserve bases would be utilised.
Captain Smit said there would be a project closing down teams overseeing withdrawals. Equipment that could be utilised in a conventional environment, would be reallocated. The utilisation of abandoned infrastructures would be handled by the Department of Public Works.
Mr P Groenewald (FFP) asked how many commando members had been recruited into the new system. Exact figures were unavailable, but would be supplied within two weeks.
Discussion (employment equity)
Mr Dodovu said the exit mechanism problem was not new. He wanted to know how long it would persist. Brigadier-General De Wit said it was a strategic objective to develop an intra-mechanism followed by a permanent mechanism, which would allow members to leave with proper benefits. This process had been held up by the military bargaining chamber, but the Department recognised the need to push it through as quickly as possible.
Mr M Moulana Sayedali-Shah asked what criteria were used for replacing staff in middle management positions. Brigadier-General De Wit said these movements were decided during a yearly succession planning seminar chaired by the Chief of Defence. An individual’s tenure in a post, the age of individual, as well as performance, were taken into account in deciding who had to go.
The meeting was adjourned.
Various dokuments and reports were distributed and discussed this Parliament meeting.
KOMMANDO’S. Volgens Hansards is dit eenvoudig verwyder weens verskeie redes, soos dat swart bemagtigingswetgewing en regstellende aksie (employment equity) moes intree (weermag).
Regstellende aksie (Kommando)
Toe hy Minister van Verdediging was het hy die Kommando stelsel met Thabo Mbeki laat verwyder.