Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, should immediately provide clarity on how the South Africa National Defence Force's (SANDF) extended deployment in Mozambique will be funded.
In a communique issued after the Extraordinary Summit of the Organ Troika of SADC by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, the mandate of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAIMM) was extended indefinitely.
SANDF is part of SAIMM and its mandate is to support Mozambique in combating acts of terrorism and violent extremism in the Cabo Delgado region.
What is not clear is who will foot the bill for the current and extended deployment and for how long. Minister Modise should publicly clarify whether the South African taxpayer will be shouldering the financial burden for this deployment or SADC will use its own financial resources.
To be clear, it will be reckless to expect the extended deployment to be funded from the current 2021/2022 budget. There is simply no room in the current budget allocation to expend on this deployment given that costs for operation prosper in KZN and Gauteng are yet to be factored in the Department's operational expenditure.
While it is undeniable that South Africa is a regional geopolitical power, the South African taxpayer cannot always be expected to carry the cost of maintaining peace and security in the region. As it is, the SANDF itself is currently faced with chronic underfunding and structural decline as a result of constant budget cuts, and overspending of especially cost of employees.
Modise has an obligation to lift the veil of secrecy around the Mozambique deployment and explain how the operation will be financed as required under the Public Finance Management Act.
Before the latest extension, the media was replete with stories of SANDF members complaining that they were not being adequately compensated for their service. It's only fair that our dedicated service members are not subjected to the same challenges on this extended deployment due to an information blackout from the Department of Defence on how it will be funded.
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