NEWS & ANALYSIS

Does the SANDF have any pride left? – Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader asks how cavalry horses could’ve been allowed to die of malnutrition

Comments by Dr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, in the Budget vote debate: Department of Defence and Military Veterans, 18 May 2018

Command structure to blame for poor discipline in defence force

Year after year the insufficient budget of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is up for discussion and things will probably just continue in the same vein because the ANC lacks the political will to do anything about it.

Similarly, the poor discipline in the defence force is another problem that the FF Plus highlights year after year, but there is no improvement there either.

Discipline in the defence force is non-negotiable. It creates proud soldiers. However, if one considers the recent incidences where soldiers were involved, one cannot help but ask yourself if the South African National Defence Force has any pride left? It is disturbing and the reason for it is that the command structure is unable to maintain discipline.

One example is that horses in the defence force’s cavalry died due to malnutrition. The members are not doing their jobs and just want to sit around and wait for the end of the month to get their salary. They did not even go to the trouble to check if all the horses are there and if they have enough feed.

It means that the command structure is lax. And if the command structure is lax and undisciplined, then one cannot expect the men and women in uniform to be disciplined.

Another example entails a soldier who was recently arrested after an incident and who was then immediately dishonourably discharged. That is the right thing to do, but the very same soldier was involved in an incident last year where he tried to ram two people on their motorbike and when the woman confronted him about it, he shot her.

He was never arrested for it and based on conversations with the police, it seemed as if he was given special treatment because he is the manager of a general in the defence force. If action was taken against him then, he would have gotten the message that you cannot just do whatever you want.

In another incident, an official (Major M.V. Mohlala) made extremely racist statements om social media after which he was lightly rapped on the knuckles. Such incidences just serve to break down the discipline even more. The FF Plus is going to report him to the Equality Court.

Political activities in the defence force cannot be tolerated. The defence force must treat each and every citizen in our country the same, irrespective of the person’s colour or political convictions.

Issued by the FF Plus, 18 May 2018