Chairperson, hon members, this joint oversight visit has indeed enriched the committee's understanding of the situation and fortified our resolve to meet the challenges. Furthermore, we are convinced that the capacity of the SA National Defence Force, defence policy and sensitive information management, among other matters, require close scrutiny.
In terms of the department's budget, our observation at Waterkloof Air Force Base indicated that limited funding resulted in infrastructure decay, threatening the overall maintenance of the base. With regard to the military hospital at Thaba Tshwane, the main issue of concern was that the military health budget was inadequate for the completion of renovation projects and the acquisition of essential medical equipment. In both cases, we believe that the weak interdepartmental relationship between the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the Department of Public Works has exacerbated the maintenance and repair issues we observed. As a result, we propose that the department submits a detailed report to Parliament, outlining the details of the service level agreement between the two departments and the list of facilities that require urgent repair. This report should also indicate the timeframes for the completion of the maintenance projects, including their costs and whether targets were met.
On the matter of transformation, we noted that there was an issue with substantive and meaningful compliance with transformation imperatives. As such, we recommend that an evaluation be conducted on the extent to which the department and SANDF have achieved transformation objectives. Irregularities in the call-up of reserve forces signal weaknesses and we counsel that the relationship between the Secretary for Defence and the Chief of the SANDF should be closely scrutinised to circumvent possible tensions.
Relating to legislative matters, there was a concern about weaknesses in parliamentary Rules and guidelines for the management of sensitive information. To combat this challenge, we suggested that Parliament considers strengthening the existing Rules and procedures that govern the receipt and management of sensitive information, particularly information relating to national security.
Human resource challenges observed largely related to the retention of scarce skills and skills development. We found that there was a loss of specialists and experts with scarce skills in the SANDF and that the military skills development system may not be providing the necessary skills needed by the military.
Furthermore, there was no clear military exit mechanism. In order to resolve these human resource matters, we propose that employment contracts of personnel with scarce skills include clauses with obligations such as, among others, the mandatory completion of service.
In light of the challenges outlined above, the Portfolio Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence believe that the challenges observed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base and the military hospital at Thaba Tshwane are not insurmountable. The impact of a reduced budget on the maintenance of facilities does not have to be a problem if intergovernmental relations between the Department of Defence and the Department of Public Works are strengthened. We also think that an evaluation of the current trajectory of transformation can result in a better understanding of what is going wrong and where.
Moreover, improvements in the capacity of the SANDF will be seen once the relevant stakeholders begin to review legislation and information management and to strengthen skills development and the retention system in the SANDF. I recommend that the report be adopted. [Applause.]
There was no debate.