Military bases’ repair will cost taxpayers R8 billion

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
08 Apr 2024 in News

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Kobus Marais MP.

As the South African taxpayer gets ready to spend nearly R2,5 billion per year on an SANDF foreign deployment to the eastern DRC, it has since emerged that the SANDF’s military bases across the country are in such a dilapidated state that their extensive network of buildings requires rehabilitation or extensive maintenance to the tune of R8 billion.

According to a written reply to my question by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise – a building condition assessment conducted by the Department of Defence (DOD) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research revealed that the defence force needs R8 billion to clear the infrastructure and maintenance backlog for the 36 890 buildings on its bases.

The dire state of infrastructure maintenance by the SANDF has already started to negatively affect military operations and place the defence force’s state of readiness at significant risk. Early this year, the Loftus building in Pretoria – which houses the headquarters of the South African Air Force had to be evacuated after the Department of Employment and Labour observed that it did not have safe and healthy working conditions due to malfunctioning ventilation systems.

With the SANDF failing to maintain or replace its prime mission equipment – which should be a higher priority, is it obvious that there is simply no money available to clear the infrastructure and maintenance backlog. Military base facilities are the primary support facilities for the country’s state of readiness in case of a national emergency and the fact that they have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of collapse, is a national scandal.

It does not help that the DoD, which is supposed to provide institutional support in rehabilitating the army bases, is either broke or losing money due to wasteful expenditure. Two weeks ago, the DoD’s Audit Committee revealed that the DoD raked up fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R430 million but has only been able to recover R800 (eight hundred rand). This represents a recovery rate of only 0.002%.

With the SANDF getting ready to celebrate 30 years of its existence, the DA reiterates its call that the DoD should be placed under administration until order and a sense of accountability is restored. The DoD has become a wasteland of inefficiency, terminal decline and indifference to the welfare of our men and women in uniform. South Africa should hold the ANC and the Minister of Defence fully accountable for failing the SANDF’s defence readiness capabilities and our country, based on our Constitution sec 200(1)&(2).