While the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was unable to maintain the Thaba Tshwane military base in Centurion due to “predominantly a lack of funds”, it has managed to find the cash to spend R20.5m on “luxury vehicles”, valued at over R600,000 each, for senior management in the previous two financial years.
This is according to parliamentary replies by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who responded to questions from FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald and DA MP Cilliers Brink.
Groenewald asked how many luxury vehicles exceeding R600,000 were purchased by the SANDF for senior management in the 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 financial years.
“No luxury vehicles exceeding R600,000 were purchased by the SA National Defence Force in the 2014/15 to 2016/17 financial years. Twenty luxury vehicles were procured in the 2017/18 financial year, and two vehicles were procured in the 2018/19 financial year,” Mapisa-Nqakula answered.
The list of vehicles acquired reveals that the defence force’s top brass tends to favour German precision as far as their transport is concerned, at least.
In the 2017/2018 financial year, the joint operations division received three Mercedes-Benz V2500s for R1,027,804 each. It also got an Audi A6 for R631,365.06 and a BMW 540i for R831,976.80.
The army got two BMW X5s at R916,883.50 each.
The military health services got a BMW 330D for R635,200, a BMW X5 for R947,633.50 and a BMW 540i for R849,526.80.
The logistics division got two BMW 750is at R1,683,811.04 and R1,559,340, three Audi Q7Rs at R964,723.11 each and four Mercedes-Benz V2500s at R812,574 each.
The defence intelligence division got a BMW 540i for R823,326.80. The total for the 2017/2018 financial year came to R19 023 824.33.
In the 2018/2019 financial year, the defence foreign relations got a BMW 520i for R651,862.47 and BMW 540i for R812,563.87.
The total spent over the two financial years was R20,488,250.67.
In answer to another question about the poor state of the Thaba Tshwane military base, Mapisa-Nqakula said it was “due to predominantly a lack of funds”.
Brink asked her if she had been informed of the poor state of maintenance of the properties and infrastructure at the base and if any plans have been put in place to address this.
“The minister of defence and military veterans is well-informed of the poor condition of facilities at the Thaba Tshwane military base in Centurion, which is a serious matter of concern to her,” read Mapisa-Nqakula’s answer.
“Cognisance must be taken that Thaba Tshwane was built on dolomite land, and with virtually no upgrade or renovations during the last two decades due to predominantly a lack of funds and a huge backlog of maintenance and repair, poses serious structural maintenance problems for both the Department of Defence [DOD] and Department of Public Works and Infrastructure [DPWI].
“Buildings and land that the units occupy are managed and maintained by the DPWI, who is the custodian of state land and facilities and therefore responsible for the maintenance and repair of these facilities, however, partly the DOD is responsible for the failure to address poor maintenance of its own properties and infrastructure by not taking the initiative to repair its facilities on realising that the DPWI is failing in its mandate.
“Repairs and renovations of sewer, stormwater and roads, as well as sinkholes are in process to take place. A facility strategic plan has been compiled with the Thaba Tshwane military area as one of the first priorities to be addressed.”