UPHILL BATTLE:  Members of liberation movement armies are going through a verification process before state benefits are granted. Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

SOUTH Africa’s contribution to peacekeeping in Africa and combating piracy off the east coast will cost R1.5bn in 2014-15.

The participation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the special intervention unit the United Nations (UN) Security Council approved for the Democratic Republic of Congo will also cost the Department of Defence an additional R150m.

These costs form part of an effectively reduced allocation to defence, public order and safety, with smaller than inflation increases. The estimate of expenditure says the regional security programme "provides for the deployment of forces in support of South Africa’s commitment to regional, continental and global security".

"Funding is distributed according to the number, size and duration of deployments, and the systems and equipment required for operations. The SANDF participates in the UN peace support operation in the Congo and the African Union peace support operation in Sudan, provides training for the armed forces in the Central African Republic and executes operations in support of the Mozambican Defence Force’s counter piracy operations in the Mozambique channel."

The SANDF participated in five external missions in 2013-14.

The focus of the force employment programme in the Department of Defence budget will "be on conducting foreign peace support, border safeguarding and antipiracy operations".

The average annual growth in the allocations to the South African Police Service (SAPS) over the medium term is estimated to be 6%, meaning the SAPS is losing ground to inflation. The same applies to the Department of Defence, with a 6% increase between 2013-14 and 2016-17. The Department of Correctional Services is in a worse situation, with an average annual increase of 5.6%.

Only the allocation for the operation of courts keeps pace with inflation, with an increase of 6.9% over the medium term. The budget review records that "spending on economic and general public services, and defence, public order and safety is expected to slow, reflecting the need to adjust resources to address spending pressures and priorities".

The treading water budget allocation comes at a time when the Department of Defence is having to cut back on operations — including mothballing Gripen jet fighters and Agusta helicopters — for want of funds to fly them.

The expenditure growth in the medium term is expected to be just over 5%. Growth between 2010 and 2014 was 10%.