Not only is South Africa’s military underfunded and lacking essential skills and infrastructure, but a leaked audit report has found its administration is also a complete mess – detailing wasteful spending and illegal activities that are not addressed or not properly addressed. are being investigated.
The report, seen by the Sunday Times, outlines actions – or lack thereof – taken in response to the Auditor General of South Africa’s (AGSA) findings on the Ministry of Defence.
It found that leadership has not assessed the department’s compliance with supply chain management laws, nor has it taken the recommended actions in most investigations of the department’s failures.
Some of the key issues raised include:
- No recommended action was taken in 90 of the 122 fraud investigations;
- 833 cases of alleged misconduct, fraud and infringement are still outstanding;
- Irregular expenditures of R6.1 billion have not been investigated;
- Fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R8.5 billion has not been examined;
- 171 employees were found to be illegally doing business with the department and other departments with contracts worth more than R30 million;
- The administration is in such bad shape that contracts worth R208 million cannot even be examined.
The report has been sent to department heads by the AGSA for comment and is expected to be published at a later date, according to the Sunday Times.
The insights into the department’s complete disregard for oversight and consequence management outline the ongoing crisis that has devastated the South African defense force.
South Africa’s military budget has suffered from spending cuts for years, with several ministers in the portfolio warning that this will have a real effect on the military’s ability to defend the country. However, the AGSA’s findings show that the money the military is getting is seriously mismanaged.
Defense and Military Veterans Secretary Thandi Modise presented her departmental budget vote in May 2022, describing the situation within the department as dire — and sounding the alarm over the number of qualified audits the department was getting.
However, she warned that ongoing austerity measures put the country at risk, especially if more violent protests break out.
The decline in South African economic performance has put significant pressure on government and households, she said, adding that it is becoming difficult to adequately meet all competing needs.
Modise said these problems mean there is fertile ground for more instability in the country, adding that these problems could be further exacerbated by a lack of funding and resources for the SANDF.
“The historical downward trend in defense allocation has not abated. It will likely continue to detract from the SANDF and the demise of the defense industry.
“Dear members will recall that we currently have a dire shortage of critical equipment, not to mention future disasters and ongoing climate change events, for example tents, water treatment and distribution systems are critically low. Usable airframes and flight hours are also in a critical condition.
“I must inform this House that the SANDF will have a hard time responding to critical events in other provinces, should the need arise. I say this with a heavy heart – we are willing, but we lack resources. Unless there is a major intervention, the closet will remain bare,” she said.
Former defense minister and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned in 2021 that South Africa risks losing its state-owned industrial defense base and the ability to repair, maintain and overhaul most of its defense systems.
“The ability to maintain key equipment for operations has diminished to the point where we have to question the viability of continuing to allocate resources,” she said at the time.
“This, combined with the decline of the defense industry, and Denel in particular, has placed us in a very precarious position.”
Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defense (JSCD) and the Defense and Military Veterans Portfolio Committee (PCODMV) have previously drawn attention to issues plaguing the sector, including an aging air force fleet and dilapidated infrastructure and equipment.
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