In a situation of war or external aggression, South Africa will not have its own defence industry for weapons, prime-mission equipment and ammunition modernisation and manufacturing.
This is largely due to the massive budget cuts the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has implemented.
On Wednesday, SANDF officials briefed Parliament's defence committee on their 2023/24 annual performance plan and budget.
They spoke of the reduction in the Department of Defence's (DOD) special defence account (SDA).
"In future, the DOD may be required to make use of external defence industries at a huge cost. In a situation of war or external aggression, South Africa will not have its own defence industry for weapon, prime-mission equipment and ammunition modernisation and manufacturing," their presentation read.
According to officials, the broad implications of the budget cuts include:
- The non-implementation of the SA Defence Review 2015 (the DOD's plan to arrest the decline), which is needed to ensure the sustainability of defence capabilities;
- Non-compliance with the National Security Strategy (NSS) border safeguarding requirement for 22 sub-units and the establishment of a Cyber Warfare Capability;
- The inability to modernise and sustain prime-mission equipment to meet the current and future security requirements of the RSA;
- The DOD's inability to modernise, optimise, digitally transform and secure the organisation;
- The DOD's integrated financial management system (IFMS) will not be aligned to the government's IFMS rollout programme to national departments envisaged for the financial year 2022/23 to the FY2024/25;
- The inability to maintain and refurbish defence facilities resulting in further deterioration of facilities;
- The inability to establish adequate organisational structures and undertake human resource staffing, enabling core mandate execution (governance and execution functions);
- The reduction or cancellation of the number of members on formal courses, and joint multi-national exercises adversely impact on the safety of troops during deployments and combat readiness; and
- The inability to maintain set stock levels (spares, general commodities, pharmaceuticals and medical consumables), resulting in outsourcing as an alternative at a high cost.
Earlier this month, Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Defence reported that the SANDF's level of defence readiness, including its conventional and secondary military roles, was deteriorating and that it was in urgent need of redress to prevent a loss of capabilities and conventional obsolescence.
The committee noted that a combination of maintenance constraints and a lack of investment in new prime mission equipment directly impacted the force's readiness.