The Department of Defence has published its annual report for 2019/2020, with the data painting a bleak picture of South Africa’s military capabilities.
The department has warned that the country’s defence force has lost a number of capabilities, owing to successive budget cuts. “South Africa’s core military capabilities have been in decline for many years,” it said.
“This is largely due to severe and crippling cuts to its baseline funding allocation and the resultant erosion of both the capital and operating budgets of the Department of Defence (DOD).”
The department said that not only has this led to inadequate maintenance, repair and overhaul of the largely obsolete equipment inventory but has also led to a significant reduction in the prime mission equipment renewal program of the defence force with ‘devastating effects’ on South Africa’s sovereign defence industry.
It said that under the current funding regime, it has had very little room to manoeuvre and has had to continue where possible with the repair of its inventory.
“In most cases, the main equipment that it uses is more than 40 years old and is largely obsolete, and with almost no spares and maintenance support available from the original equipment manufacturers.”
While the department had developed a ‘South African Defence Review’ in 2015 which outlined the changes that were needed to bring South Africa’s defensive capabilities up to speed, the department said that the current funding allocation ‘dramatically reduces the level of defence ambition that can be sustainably pursued’.
“This reduction will inevitably lead to a reduction in operational output, introducing significant risks to South Africa’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the ability to sustain enduring support to the development of South Africa and its people,” it said.