SANDF needs better financial management to strengthen operations: analyst

Bongani Bingwa interviewed the Head of Strategic Studies at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Military Science, Professor Abel Esterhuyse, about the military’s ability to restore calm after violent protests in July 2021.

A number of civilians have called for the intervention of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) following recent deadly protests in Tembisa and Krugersdorp.

Bongani Bingwa interviewed the Head of Strategic Studies at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Military Science, Professor Abel Esterhuyse, about the military’s ability to restore calm after violent protests in July 2021.

Esterhuyse said that at the operational level, the defense force is always competent.

The army is still very capable and should not be underestimated, he added.

Our soldiers are still very capable, we have experience in peace operations in Africa. We are deployed in Mozambique and at the borders, so we still have a fairly good deployment capacity.

Professor Abel Esterhuyse, Head of Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Science – University of Stellenbosch

However, the success and growth of its operations are hampered by a massive employment budget that leaves little money for maintenance and the purchase of new equipment.

What we have seen in South Africa over time is that the personnel budget has grown so much that there is hardly any money available in the capital budget. The little money available after staff have been paid is used for operational purposes. So there is almost no money for maintenance and the purchase of new equipment.

Professor Abel Esterhuyse, Head of Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Science – University of Stellenbosch

Another problem is financial mismanagement – which is prevalent in South African state institutions, he said.

I don’t think the Department of Defense is any different than what we see in the state sector as a whole… That’s what we’ve seen over time in the state sector as a whole.

Professor Abel Esterhuyse, Head of Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Science – University of Stellenbosch

Our army, at present, has a mushroom-like structure. We have way too many senior executives and people in senior command positions and not enough people on the deployment and operational footprint side.

Professor Abel Esterhuyse, Head of Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Science – University of Stellenbosch

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