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Structure of the SA Defence Policy Strategy & Planning Division

Structure of the SA Defence Policy Strategy & Planning Division

Defence in a Democracy


  1. This Draft White Paper has been prepared in the spirit of the new democratic era in South Africa. It acknowledges, as its point of departure, the profound political and strategic consequences of the ending of apartheid.
  2. Following free and fair elections in April 1994, South Africa has become a vibrant democracy. It has an Interim Constitution which outlaws discrimination, enshrines fundamental rights, and emphasises openness and accountability in governance.
  3. The Constitution also establishes a framework for democratic civil-military relations. In terms of this framework the Defence Force is non-partisan; it is subject to the control and oversight of the elected civilian authority; and it is obliged to perform its functions in accordance with law.
  4. After two and a half decades of isolation, South Africa has been welcomed back into the international community and has joined a host of important regional and international bodies. The country’s foreign relations have been transformed from an adversarial mode to bilateral and multi-lateral co-operation.
  5. This fundamental shift has been accompanied by a dramatic change in the strategic environment at domestic and regional levels. While instability and conflict remain prevalent, the government is no longer at war with its own people and with neighbouring states in Southern Africa.
  6. The government regards the daunting task of addressing poverty and the socio-economic inequalities of apartheid as a priority. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) consequently stands at the pinnacle of national policy.
  7. The government is equally committed to national reconciliation and unity. One of the most dramatic illustrations of this commitment is the integration of former government, homeland and guerrilla forces into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
  8. The Draft White Paper addresses the implications of these momentous developments for defence policy and the SANDF.


  1. The aim of the Draft White Paper is to present proposals on new defence policy on behalf of government and for the consideration of Parliament and the public.
  2. The paper also provides a basis for informing other states, particularly those in Africa and Southern Africa, of South Africa’s emerging defence policy. The paper may therefore serve as a confidence-building measure in the region.
  3. Defence policy can be described as that subset of government policy which is concerned with countering military threats and with the orientation, development, maintenance, preparation and employment of armed forces. Defence policy should be in harmony with all other aspects of government policy, particularly foreign policy and national security policy.
  4. The Draft White Paper considers the following topics:
    12.1 The overarching challenge of transforming defence policy and the armed forces in the context of the Interim Constitution; national security policy and the RDP; and international law on armed conflict.
    12.2 Civil-military relations, with reference to the constitutional provisions on defence; military intelligence; the structure of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Department of Defence (DOD); military professionalism; the govern-ment’s responsibility towards the SANDF; and the rights of soldiers.
    12.3 The external and internal strategic environment and the importance of promoting regional security.
    12.4 The primary mission and secondary functions of the Defence Force.
    12.5 Human resource issues, including integration; the establishment of an all-volunteer force; the Part-Time Force; rationalisation and demobilisation; equal opportunity and affirmative action; and defence labour relations.
    12.6 Budgetary considerations.
    12.7 Arms control and the arms industry.


  1. Defence policy is no longer the preserve of an elite group of ‘securocrats’. On the contrary, the Draft White Paper is an invitation to citizens and their elected representatives to engage in debate on military matters and, to the greatest extent possible, forge a national consensus on defence.
  2. There are several reasons for this shift in emphasis. First, accountability, responsiveness and openness in government are now constitutional principles. Second, the SANDF is a national institution which relies on public support and public funds to fulfil its mandate. Third, the functions and orientation of the Defence Force are necessarily matters of great public interest.
  3. Once Parliament, the public and other government departments have commented on this draft document, the Ministry of Defence will produce a White Paper on Defence.
  4. The White Paper will serve as the policy framework for a Defence Review which entails comprehensive long-range planning on such matters as doctrine, posture, force design, force levels, armaments, equipment and funding. The DOD will shortly begin the process of conducting the Review. The process will entail widespread consultation, and the final product will be presented to Parliament by 1 April 1996.
  5. In addition, the DOD will periodically submit to Parliament detailed plans on issues like demobilisation, rationalisation, equal opportunity, military education, weapons acquisition programmes and the Part-Time Force.
  6. Finally, it should be noted that this Draft White Paper draws extensively from the Interim Constitution. Certain adjustments to defence policy may be necessary when the final Constitution has been promulgated.



  1. The goal of security policy under apartheid was to maintain the system of minority rule against domestic resistance and international pressure. This goal was pursued through extensive use of military and police force. Society became highly militarised as the Defence Force was drawn into all spheres of life and the defence budget imposed an increasingly heavy burden.
  2. A fundamentally different approach is required in a democracy and the prevailing South African situation. Security policy is no longer a predominantly military problem but has been broadened to incorporate political, economic, social and environmental matters. At the heart of this new approach is a paramount concern with the security of people.
  3. Security is an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace and safety; participate fully in the process of governance; enjoy the protection of fundamental rights; have access to resources and the basic necessities of life; and inhabit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well-being.
  4. At domestic level the objectives of security policy therefore encompass the consolidation of democracy; the achievement of social justice, economic development and a safe environment; and a substantial reduction in the level of crime, violence and political instability.
  5. At international level the objectives include the maintenance of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the state Chapter 5, and the promotion of regional security in Southern Africa Chapter 4.
  6. The Government of National Unity recognises that the greatest threats to the South African people are crime, violence and socio-economic problems like poverty, unemployment, poor education, the lack of housing and the absence of adequate social services.
  7. One of the government’s policy priorities is accordingly the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The RDP is the principal long-term means of promoting the security of citizens and, thereby, the stability of the country.
  8. There is consequently a compelling need to reallocate state resources to the RDP. From the perspective of the MOD, the challenge is to rationalise the Defence Force and contain military spending without undermining the country’s core defence capability in the short- to long-term Chapter 5.
  9. The new approach to security does not imply an expansive role for the armed forces. The SANDF will continue to be deployed in co-operation with the South African Police Service, and it may be employed for socio-economic and other secondary purposes, but its primary and essential mission is the conventional function of defence against external military aggression Chapter 5.
  10. The Defence Force therefore remains an important security instrument of last resort but it is no longer the dominant security institution. The responsibility for ensuring the security of South Africa’s people is now shared by many government departments and ultimately vests in Parliament.


  1. The theme of this Draft White Paper is the transformation of defence policy and the Defence Force. Transformation is essential in the light of three sets of factors: the history of armed forces in this country; the new strategic environment at regional and domestic levels; and, most importantly, the advent of democracy.
  2. The process of transformation will be guided by the following principles of `defence in a democracy’. These principles are derived from the Interim Constitution and government policy.
    12.1 National security shall be sought primarily through efforts to meet the political, economic, social and cultural rights and needs of South Africa’s people.
    12.2 South Africa shall pursue peaceful relations with other states. It will seek a high level of political, economic and military co-operation with Southern African states in particular.
    12.3 South Africa shall adhere to international law on armed conflict.
    12.4 The SANDF shall have a primarily defensive orientation and posture.
    12.5 South Africa is committed to the international cause of arms control and disarmament. It shall participate in, and seek to strengthen, international and regional efforts to contain the proliferation of small arms, conventional armaments and weapons of mass destruction.
    12.6 South Africa’s force levels, armaments and military expenditure shall be determined by defence policy which derives from an analysis of the external and internal security environment and takes account of the RDP imperative.
    12.7 The SANDF shall be a balanced, modern and technologically advanced military force, capable of executing its tasks effectively and efficiently.
    12.8 The functions and responsibilities of the SANDF shall be determined by the Constitution and a revised Defence Act.
    12.9 The primary role of the SANDF shall be to defend South Africa against external military aggression. Deployment in an internal policing capacity shall be limited to exceptional circumstances and subject to parliamentary safeguards.
    12.10 The SANDF shall be subordinate to the elected civilian authority. It shall be fully accountable to Parliament and the Executive.
    12.11 The SANDF shall operate strictly within the parameters of the Constitution and domestic legislation. It shall respect human rights and the democratic political process.
    12.12 Defence policy and military activities shall be sufficiently transparent to enable meaningful parliamentary and public scrutiny and debate.
    12.13 The SANDF shall be non-partisan with respect to political parties.
    12.14 The SANDF shall endeavour to develop a non-racial, non-sexist and non-discriminatory institutional culture.
    12.15 The SANDF shall respect the rights and dignity of its members within the normal constraints of military discipline and training.
  3. The policy principles outlined above are explored in more detail in the following chapters. The implications for the doctrine, posture and structure of the SANDF will be dealt with in the Defence Review.


  1. The Interim Constitution contains three clauses which deal with the military aspects of international law: soldiers may refuse to obey orders in breach of this law; the SANDF shall not contravene the law on aggression; and in situations of armed conflict, the Defence Force shall comply with its obligations under international law and treaties.
  2. These clauses reflect the conviction of Parliament and the Executive that South Africa should conduct its foreign policy as a responsible member of the international community.
  3. There are two main categories of international law on armed conflict: the `law against war’ which relates to aggression and the right to resort to force; and the `law in war’, also referred to as international humanitarian law, which governs the conduct of hostilities.
  4. The main rule of the law against war is contained in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter:
    “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
  5. There are three legitimate exceptions to this substantive ban on force in international relations:
    18.1 Article 42 of the Charter authorises the collective use of force under the auspices of the UN Security Council.
    18.2 Article 53 permits the Security Council to mandate regional organisations to take enforcement action in certain circumstances.
    18.3 Article 51 preserves the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.
  6. Article 2(4) of the Charter stipulates the following positive obligation: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”.
  7. International humanitarian law is contained chiefly in the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions and Protocols. These treaties seek to regulate the conduct of armed conflict with reference to humanitarian concerns.
  8. In summary, the treaties outlaw attacks on non-military targets; impose a duty to protect the victims of armed hostilities; prohibit certain methods of warfare; and contain restrictions and absolute prohibitions on specific categories of arms (eg chemical and biological weapons).
  9. International law on armed conflict will enjoy primary consideration in the preparation and execution of military operations. It will consequently be necessary to instruct SANDF personnel, particularly at leadership level, on the relevant provisions of this law Chapter 3.



  1. The Interim Constitution outlines the principles, structures, responsibilities and relationships which are necessary to secure democratic civil-military relations. (Civil-military relations refer to the distribution of power and influence between the armed services and the civilian authority).
  2. The Constitution contains the following provisions in this regard:
    2.1 The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF [Article 82(4.(a.].
    2.2 The President may, with the approval of Parliament, declare a state of national defence [Article 82(4.(b.(i.].
    2.3 The President may employ the SANDF in accordance with its functions and subject to the accountability outlined below [Article 82(4.(b.(ii.].
    2.4 The President shall immediately inform Parliament of the reasons for the employment of the SANDF where this relates to the defence of the Republic, compliance with international obligations or the maintenance of internal law and order [Article 228(4.(a.].
    2.5 Parliament may resolve to terminate such employment [Article 228(5.].
    2.6 The President shall appoint the Chief of the SANDF [Article 225].
    2.7 The Chief of the SANDF shall exercise military executive command of the armed forces subject to the directions of the Minister of Defence and, during a state of national defence, the President [Article 225].
    2.8 An Act of Parliament shall provide for the establishment, organisation, training, conditions of service and other matters concerning the permanent force and the part-time reserve [Articles 226(2. and (3.].
    2.9 The Minister of Defence shall be accountable to Parliament for the SANDF [Article 228(1.].
    2.10 Parliament shall annually approve the defence budget [Article 228(2.].
    2.11 A joint standing committee on defence shall be established in Parliament. The committee shall be competent to investigate and make recommendations on the budget, functioning, organisation, armaments, policy, morale and state of preparedness of the SANDF, and to perform such other functions related to parliamentary supervision of the force as may be prescribed by law [[Articles 228(3.(a. and (d.].
    2.12 The SANDF shall perform its functions and exercise its powers solely in the national interest by i. upholding the Constitution; ii. providing for the defence of the Republic; and iii. ensuring the protection of the inhabitants of the Republic [Article 227(2.(a.].
    2.13 The SANDF shall perform its functions and exercise its powers under the directions of the government and in accordance with the Constitution and any law [Articles 227(2.(a. and (b.].
    2.14 The SANDF shall conform to international law on armed conflict which is binding on South Africa [Articles 227(2.(d. and (e.].
    2.15 The SANDF shall refrain from furthering or prejudicing any party political interest, and no member of the permanent force shall hold office in any political party or organisation [Articles 227(2.(c. and 226(6.].
SEE ALSO:  SANDF Application Form for SA Army: MSDS 2022-2023


  1. The Interim Constitution outlines a clear hierarchy of authority on defence matters: the Chief of the SANDF enjoys executive military command of the armed forces; this authority is exercised under the direction of the Minister of Defence in times of peace and the President during a state of national defence; and the Minister is in turn accountable to Parliament for the SANDF.
  2. Parliament has a range of significant powers regarding military affairs. These powers include investigation, recommendation and supervision; approval of defence legislation and the defence budget; and review of the President’s decisions to deploy the SANDF in critical functions.
  3. The DOD respects the right and duty of Parliament to exercise independent and critical judgement on defence policy and practice.
  4. Nevertheless, the DOD looks forward to building a close and co-operative relationship with the parliamentary defence committees. To this end, the Department will engage in on-going communication with the committees in order to convey information and elicit comment.
  5. Parliamentary and public scrutiny and debate will only be meaningful if there is sufficient transparency on military matters. Although a measure of secrecy will undoubtedly be necessary, the governing constitutional principle is ‘freedom of information’. Exceptions to this principle should be limited and specific, and will be dealt with in legislation.
  6. The MOD supports the creation of the post of Military Ombudsperson whose main duty is to investigate complaints against the SANDF by military personnel and members of the public. The ombudsperson would be an independent official who is appointed by, and reports to, Parliament. A number of parties have made proposals in this regard to the Constitutional Assembly.


  1. The principles of civil-military relations have special relevance to military intelligence given its controversial history in South Africa. The RSA Intelligence White Paper and the intelligence legislation which has been promulgated emphasise the themes of an ethical code of conduct, the rule of law, parliamentary oversight and executive control in respect of the various intelligence agencies.
  2. The Intelligence Division of the SANDF is also subject to the scrutiny of the Inspector General of the force and the co-ordinating mechanisms provided for in new intelligence legislation.
  3. The Ministry will ensure that a fair and acceptable balance is reached between the need to protect sensitive information and the demands for freedom of information in respect of intelligence activities.
  4. The main functions of the Division are counter-intelligence and the gathering and analysis of external military information. The primary aim of the latter function is to provide the SANDF with advance warning of potential military threats, and thereby with maximum time for defence preparation. An effective intelligence capability is essential if force levels are to be kept to the lowest practical level in times of peace.
  5. In co-operation with the national intelligence co-ordinating structures, the Ministry will seek to establish arrangements for sharing intelligence with other countries in order to facilitate continuous monitoring and evaluation of changes in the strategic environment. Southern African countries are a priority in this regard.
  6. As a general rule, the Division is not permitted to collect domestic military intelligence in a covert manner. However, where the SANDF is deployed internally in support of the police, the National Strategic Intelligence Act provides that the President may authorise the Division to engage in such collection in a specified geographical area for a specified duration.


During the apartheid era the Department of Defence was militarised by proclamation of the State President, with most of its functions being performed by SADF Headquarters.

  1. In the interests of entrenching democratic civil-military relations, the President has issued a proclamation providing for the creation of a new Department which incorporates the SANDF and includes a civilian Defence Secretariat.
  2. The Minister of Defence is the political head of the DOD. The Chief of the SANDF is the departmental head who directs the work of Defence Headquarters. The Defence Secretary is the principal accounting officer who manages the duties of the Secretariat.
  3. The Chief of the SANDF and the Defence Secretary have equal status under the Minister. They are co-chairpersons of the statutory Defence Staff Council which has advisory powers. They also serve on the statutory Council of Defence which is chaired by the Minister.
  4. The Ministry of Defence is comprised of the Minister, the Deputy Minister and their personal staff. The Minister and Deputy Minister constitute the civilian authority on military matters on behalf of the Executive. The Minister is accountable to Parliament for the defence function of government.
  5. In determining the respective functions of the Secretariat and Defence Headquarters, there are two basic guidelines: civilians formulate defence policy and the military executes this policy; and civilians are responsible for the political dimensions of defence. This breakdown does not preclude senior officers from being seconded to work in the Secretariat on the basis of their functional expertise.
  6. It is the goal of the Minister to staff the Secretariat predominantly with civilians. As a transitional arrangement, however, the Secretariat will initially be comprised largely of officers transferred from Defence Headquarters in order to ensure continuity.


  1. Stable civil-military relations depend to a great extent on the professionalism of the armed forces. The challenge is to define and promote an approach to military professionalism which is consistent with democracy and the Constitution.
  2. More specifically, the desired professionalism of the full-time and part-time components of the SANDF includes the following political, ethical and organisational features:
    22.1 The acceptance by military personnel of the primacy of civilian rule.
    22.2 The maintenance of technical, managerial and organisational skills and resources which enable the armed forces to perform their primary mission and secondary functions efficiently and effectively.
    22.3 Strict adherence to the Constitution, domestic legislation and international law.
    22.4 Respect for the democratic political process, human rights and cultural diversity.
    22.5. The operation of the Defence Force according to established policies, procedures and rules in times of war and peace.
    22.6 A commitment to public service, chiefly in defence of the state and its citizens.
    22.7 Non-partisanship in relation to party politics.
  3. Education and training programmes within the SANDF are a cardinal means of building and maintaining a high level of professionalism. In this regard the Interim Constitution provides that all members of the SANDF “shall be properly trained in order to comply with international standards of competency” [Article 226 (5)].
  4. At the heart of training is the preparation of officers and other ranks to fulfil the SANDF’s primary mission of defence against external military aggression.
  5. In addition, special training programmes are required to standardise procedures following the integration of armies; to facilitate an equal opportunity programme and upgrade the skills of black soldiers Chapter 6; to meet the particular needs of an all-volunteer force Chapter 6; and to prepare for involvement in international peace operations Chapter 5.
  6. Training will also play an essential role in developing the political and ethical dimensions of military professionalism. To this end, the Ministry will oversee the design and implementation of a programme on ‘defence in a democracy’.
  7. The programme will cover the following subjects: the key elements of the political process in a democracy; the constitutional provisions on fundamental rights and defence; the significance of the Constitution as the highest law of the country; international law on armed conflict; and respect for multi-cultural diversity.
  8. This programme will extend to all members of the SANDF but will necessarily be tailored according to function and rank. It will encompass short-term orientation courses and a longer term process of adapting the development programmes of Officers and Warrant Officers/Non-Commissioned Officers.
  9. The programme will be integrated into all aspects of training rather than treated as an isolated subject. It will be applied to the military context through lectures, simulated exercises and case studies.
  10. The MOD recognises that the programme will have little value if misconduct is any way sanctioned by the military or civilian authority. The institutional culture of the SANDF will only be infused with respect for human rights and the rule of law if its members are subject to disciplinary action in the event of abuses.
  11. The DOD is currently undertaking a review of the Military Disciplinary Code in the light of the Interim Constitution and emerging defence policy.
  12. Members of the SANDF, especially senior officers and instructors who train military personnel, are already being exposed to international law on armed conflict under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.


  1. The Interim Constitution, as with other democratic constitutions, seeks to establish stable civil-military relations by subjecting the Defence Force to civilian control. Such control is deemed vital because armed forces typically have a substantial capacity for organised violence.
  2. However, the government recognises that civil-military relations will only be stable if the requisite control is accompanied by the fulfillment of certain responsibilities towards the Defence Force and its members. These responsibilities include the following:
    34.1 The government will not misuse the SANDF for partisan or repressive purposes.
    34.2 The government will not interfere in the military chain of command or intrude on operational matters which are the authority of military commanders. However, the government will supervise and exercise control over operations and preparations for operations through the Chief of the SANDF.
    34.3 The government will take account of the professional views of senior officers in the process of policy formulation and decision-making on defence. This input is assured through the Defence Staff Council, the Council of Defence and the structure of the DOD.
    34.4 The requirement that soldiers operate within the law presupposes that government acts in a lawful fashion.
    34.5 The government will request from Parliament sufficient funds to enable the SANDF to perform its tasks effectively and efficiently.
    34.6 The government will seek to ensure that military personnel are adequately remunerated, and will provide the necessary support to retired and demobilised soldiers.
    34.7 The government will not endanger the lives of military personnel through improper deployment or the provision of inadequate or inferior weapons and equipment.


  1. Members of the SANDF are citizens and therefore enjoy the same fundamental rights as civilians. Certain exceptions to this principle will be necessary because of the unique nature of military service. The exceptions will be limited and specific, and will be covered in defence legislation.
  2. The exceptions will also be subject to the constitutional provisions on limitation of fundamental rights. Such limitations are only permissible if they are reasonable, justifiable in an open and democratic society, and do not negate the essential content of the right in question.
  3. Military personnel are entitled to vote and to be members of the political party of their choice. However, as noted above, the Interim Constitution provides that no member of the Permanent Force shall hold office in any political party or political organisation.
  4. The Interim Constitution further provides that a member of the SANDF `shall be obliged to comply with all lawful orders but shall be entitled to refuse to execute any order if the execution of such order would constitute an offence or would breach international law on armed conflict binding on the Republic’ [Article 226 (7)]. This provision will be applied strictly and its implications for military operations will be conveyed to all soldiers and officers in the course of their training and education. The question of international law on armed conflict is covered below.



  1. The aim of this Section is to identify those prominent trends which have major implications for the defence sector. For political, historical and geographic reasons, the emphasis lies mainly on the Southern African region.
  2. The ending of apartheid has given rise to dramatic changes in the external strategic environment from the perspective of South Africa. The country is no longer regarded as a pariah state but has been welcomed into many international organisations, mo st importantly the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
  3. South Africa is in fact expected to play a leadership role in these forums, especially with regard to peace and security in Africa and Southern Africa. In particular, there are expectations that South Africa will become involved in international peac e operations on the continent and sub-continent.
  4. The most significant strategic development over the past few years is South Africa’s new status in Southern Africa, previously an arena of intense conflict. With the election of the Government of National Unity, relations with neighbouring states cha nged instantly from suspicion and animosity to friendship and co-operation.
  5. The region as a whole has undergone substantial change since the end of the Cold War. Considerable progress has been made towards the resolution of internal conflicts, the establishment of democracy, and demilitarisation and disarmament. The prospec ts for regional peace and stability are greater today than at any other time in recent decades.
  6. Nevertheless, much of the sub-continent is stricken by chronic underdevelopment and the attendant problems of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. There are large numbers of refugees and displaced people; an acute debt crisis; and rampant disease an d environmental degradation. Certain states remain politically volatile. The worst case scenario, as experienced most intensely in Angola and Mozambique, is civil war.
  7. These phenomena are not confined to national borders. They impact negatively on neighbouring states in the form of a range of non-military threats: environmental destruction, the spread of disease, the burden of refugees, and cross-border trafficking in drugs, stolen goods and small arms.
  8. South Africa is not confronted by an immediate conventional military threat. It has no aggressive intentions towards any state and does not anticipate external military aggression in the short term (+/- 5 years).
  9. The longer term future cannot be determined with any degree of certainty because international relations are unpredictable. They are characterised by conflicting national interests and competition around trade and natural resources. There is the ris k of armed hostilities in some parts of the world, and a high level of political cohesion in others.
  10. Since the end of the Cold War there have been simultaneous tendencies towards the formation of regional blocs and the disintegration of states through ethnic and other types of conflict.
  11. There is also a major fault line between the countries of the North and those of the South, as the latter become progressively poorer. This structural inequality has led increasingly to interference in national political and economic policies in the South by international financial institutions.
  12. The following conclusions are drawn from this overview of the external environment.
    12.1 The absence of a foreseeable conventional military threat provides considerable space to rationalise and redesign the Defence Force. The goals and strategies of this process will be spelt out in the Defence Review.
    12.2 The SANDF has to maintain a core defence capability because of the inherent unpredictability of the future. Such capability cannot be created from scratch if the need suddenly arises. The maintenance and development of weapons systems is necessaril y a long-term endeavour. The concept of a core defence capability is discussed in Chapter 5.
    12.3 The Ministry and the SANDF will engage in co-operative ventures with their counterparts throughout the world in such fields as training and education, defence planning, exchange visits, joint exercises and procurement of arms and equipment. Many suc h ventures are already underway.
    12.4 Defence co-operation with other Southern African states is a priority. South Africa will accordingly seek to strengthen the security and defence forums of SADC and the Association of Southern African States. The question of regional security is dis cussed further below.
    12.5 Regional instability and underdevelopment can only be addressed meaningfully through political reform, socio-economic development, and inter-state co-operation in these spheres. Similarly, the prevention and management of inter- and intra-state conf lict is primarily a political and not a military matter.
    12.6 Situations may arise in Southern Africa where inter- or intra-state conflict poses a threat to peace and stability in the region as a whole. Peace operations which involve the deployment of the SANDF may be necessary in such situations if political efforts to resolve the conflict are unsuccessful. Chapter 5.
    12.7 As a responsible member of the international community, South Africa will conduct its foreign policy, arms trade and external defence activities in accordance with international law and norms. South Africa has already joined a number of multi-lateral arms control regimes.
SEE ALSO:  The South African Army SANDF Application form 2022-2023


  1. Following trends in other parts of the world, South Africa will encourage the development of a `common security’ approach in Southern Africa. In essence, this will entail the SADC states shaping their political, security and defence policies in co-op eration with each other.
  2. A common approach to security in Southern Africa is necessary for a number of reasons. First, many of the domestic threats to individual states are shared problems and impact negatively on the stability of neighbouring countries.
  3. Second, it is possible that inter-state disputes could emerge in relation to refugees, trade, foreign investment, natural resources and previously suppressed territorial claims.
  4. Third, since the sub-continent is politically volatile and its national and regional institutions are relatively weak, internal conflicts could give rise to cross-border tensions and hostilities. This volatility and weakness also makes the region vul nerable to foreign interference and intervention.
  5. Common security arrangements would have many advantages in this context. They could facilitate the sharing of information and resources; the early warning of potential crises; joint problem-solving; implementing Confidence- and Security-Building Meas ures (CSBMs); negotiating security agreements and treaties; and resolving inter-state conflict through peaceful means.
  6. Certain of these endeavours are the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Chief amongst them is the settlement of conflict through preventive diplomacy, mediation or arbitration.
  7. Other types of activity, some of which are currently under discussion in the newly formed Association of Southern African States, will be undertaken by the DOD.
  8. First, regional defence co-operation could be promoted in the fields of logistics; training and education programmes; intelligence; combined exercises; mutual secondment of personnel; and the development of common doctrines and operational procedures.
  9. Second, the government might be called upon by neighbouring countries to play a number of supportive roles. For example, the SANDF could provide assistance with respect to disaster relief; controlling cross-border trafficking in small arms; clearing minefields; military training; and maintaining and upgrading weaponry and equipment.
  10. Third, the DOD is keen to promote the implementation of CSBMs. These are measures which provide for greater transparency in military matters in order to alleviate possible mistrust and prevent misunderstandings from developing into crises.
  11. Appropriate CSBMs might include the annual exchange of information on defence budgets and troop deployment; notification and on-site observation of specified military activities; verification procedures; a communications network; and means of dealing with unusual or unscheduled military incidents.
  12. South Africa shares the view of many of its neighbours that the creation of a standing peacekeeping force in the region is neither desirable nor practically feasible. It is far more likely that the SADC countries will engage in ad-hoc peace operation s if the need arises.
  13. South Africa will support the conclusion of multi-lateral treaties on disarmament, conventional arms control, weapons of mass destruction and foreign military involvement in the region. The most important agreement would be a non-aggression pact whic h endorses the international prohibition on the threat or use of force.
  14. Given South Africa’s overwhelming military superiority on the sub-continent, the adoption of a defensive and non-threatening posture would contribute to building confidence and positive relationships.
  15. Further, reductions in force levels and weapons holdings might stimulate a broader process of disarmament in Southern Africa. This would release resources for development and thereby promote stability. However, force reductions should be kept within reasonable proportions if South Africa is to play a leadership role in the region.
  16. Finally, it is the view of government that South Africa has a common destiny with Southern Africa. Domestic peace and stability will not be achieved in a context of regional instability and poverty. It is therefore in South Africa’s long-term securi ty interests to pursue mutually beneficial relations with other SADC states and to promote reconstruction and development throughout the region.


  1. From a security perspective there are three prominent trends at domestic level. First, as noted in Chapter 2, there is an overwhelming need for socio-economic development and reconstruction in order to address the root causes of much personal insecur ity and social instability. This is a moral obligation and a strategic imperative.
  2. Second, the country is characterised by endemic crime which effects all sectors of society. The government is tackling this problem chiefly through efforts to improve the criminal justice system, community policing and crime prevention strategies. A long-term solution lies in upgrading the conditions of impoverished communities through the RDP.
  3. Third, there has been a considerable reduction in the level of public and political violence since the elections in April 1994. Nevertheless, violence in many parts of the country remains unacceptably high and poses a serious threat to public order a nd the security of citizens.
  4. Public order policing is primarily the responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS). However, given the relative shortage of police personnel, large numbers of troops are currently deployed to assist them. This tendency is undesirable b ut it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future Chapter 5.



  1. The Interim Constitution provides that the SANDF may be employed in the following functions:
    1.1 For service in the defence of the Republic, for the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    1.2 For service in compliance with the international obligations of the Republic with regard to international bodies and other states.
    1.3 For service in the preservation of life, health or property.
    1.4 For service in the provision or maintenance of essential services.
    1.5 For service in the upholding of law and order in the Republic in co-operation with the South African Police Service under circumstances set out in law where the said Police Service is unable to maintain law and order on its own.
    1.6 For service in support of any department of state for the purpose of socio-economic upliftment.
  2. It is the policy of government that the above functions do not carry equal weight. The primary mission of the SANDF is to defend South Africa against external military aggression. The other functions are secondary.
  3. The size, design, structure and budget of the SANDF will therefore be determined mainly by its primary mission. However, provision will have to be made for the special requirements of internal deployment and international peace operations.
  4. The rest of this Chapter considers the various functions of the Defence Force in more detail.


  1. Governments have an inherent right and responsibility to ensure the protection of the state and its people against external military threats. South Africa will employ the following principal strategies to this end:
    5.1 Political, Economic and Military Co-operation with other States. In this context, a common security regime, regional defence co-operation and confidence- and security-building measures in Southern Africa are particularly important
    5.2 Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflict through Non-Violent Means. Conflict resolution, in the form of diplomacy, mediation or arbitration, may take place on a bilateral basis or under the auspices of an international or regional body.
    5.3 Deployment of the Defence Force. The use or threat of force against external military aggression is a legitimate measure of last resort when political solutions have been exhausted.
  2. It is clear from the above that the government’s preferred and primary course of action is to prevent conflict and war. South Africa will only turn to military means when deterrence and non-violent strategies have failed.
  3. Deterrence requires the existence of a defence capability which is sufficiently credible to inhibit potential aggressors. Although South Africa is not confronted by any foreseeable external military threat, this capability cannot be turned on and off like a tap. It is therefore necessary to maintain a core defence capability.
  4. A core defence capability includes a sustainable nucleus with the following features:
    8.1 The ability to deal with small-scale contingencies of a short-term nature.
    8.2 The ability to deal with a range of contingencies.
    8.3 The ability to expand the Defence Force to appropriate levels within a realistic time frame should the threat situation deteriorate significantly.
    8.4 The maintenance and, where necessary, the upgrading or replacement of equipment and weaponry.
    8.5 An efficient intelligence capability to ensure early warning of potential conflicts and crises.
  5. This “core force” approach takes account of government spending priorities and the fact that the self-defence problem is likely to be limited in the short- to medium-term. It does not require a large standing force. Instead, the SANDF will comprise of a relatively small Full-Time Force and a sufficiently large Part-Time Force.
  6. The Defence Review will address in more detail the implications of the core force approach for the size, doctrine, posture, structure, weaponry and equipment of the SANDF.
  7. The Review will also address the strategic and technical implications of the constitutional provision that the SANDF shall be “primarily defensive in the exercise or performance of its powers and functions”. As noted earlier, the adoption of a defensive and non-threatening military posture will contribute to promoting positive relationships and confidence in Southern Africa.


  1. It was noted in Chapter 4 that SANDF troops are currently employed on a widespread basis in support of the SAPS, and that such employment is likely to persist for some time because of on-going public violence and the relative shortage of police personnel.
  2. Nevertheless, the history of South Africa and many other countries suggests that it is inappropriate to utilise armed forces in a policing role on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. This perspective is based on the following considerations:
    13.1 Armed forces are not trained, orientated or equipped for deployment against civilians. They are typically geared to employ maximum force against an external military aggressor.
    13.2 On-going employment in a policing function invariably politicises a defence force.
    13.3 Such employment may also undermine the image and legitimacy of a defence force amongst sectors of the population.
    13.4 Internal deployment places a substantial burden on the defence budget.
    13.5 It also has a disruptive effect on the economy where large numbers of part-time soldiers are engaged.
    13.6 Efforts to apply military solutions to political problems are inherently limited and invariably lead to acts of repression.
  3. In the light of these considerations, the policy goal of the government is to build the capacity of the police to deal with public violence on their own while political solutions are being sought or have failed. The SANDF would only then be deployed in the most exceptional circumstances, such as a complete breakdown of public order. Accordingly, resources for maintaining internal stability should be channelled to the SAPS rather than the SANDF.
  4. In the interim, the internal deployment of the military will be subject to the constitutional provisions on fundamental rights and will be regulated by legislation.


  1. As a fully fledged member of the international community, South Africa will fulfil its responsibility to participate in international peace operations.
  2. In the short-term, however, such participation will be regarded with a fair measure of caution since the political and military dynamics of these operations are new to South Africa and the Defence Force. Further, the integration of former armed forces is still underway and no training in peacekeeping has yet taken place.
  3. In order to prepare properly for peace operations, the DOD is currently investigating the development of appropriate doctrines, operational procedures and training programmes in co-operation with foreign partners.
  4. Public and parliamentary debate on the complexities and different types of peace operations is equally important.
  5. South Africa will only become involved in specific peace operations if the following conditions are met:
    20.1 There should be parliamentary and public support for such involvement, and appreciation of the associated costs and risks.
    20.2 The operation should have a clear mandate, mission and objectives.
    20.3 There should be realistic criteria for terminating the operation.
    20.4 The operation should have been authorised by the United Nations Security Council.
    20.5 Operations in Southern Africa should be sanctioned by SADC and should be undertaken together with other SADC states rather than a unilateral basis.
  6. South Africa’s consideration of involvement in specific peace operations will not be limited to the possible deployment of troops. The involvement could also take the form of providing equipment, logistical support, engineering services, communications systems and medical personnel and facilities.


  1. As noted earlier, the Interim Constitution provides that the SANDF may be employed in a range of activities in addition to those discussed above.
  2. By way of illustration, these activities may include disaster relief; provision of emergency services; search and rescue; evacuation of South African citizens from high threat areas; efforts to curtail cross-border crime; protection of maritime and other natural resources; socio-economic upliftment; and regional defence co-operation.
  3. However, it should be stressed again that these are secondary functions. Extensive use of a defence force in non-military activities is economically inefficient; it contributes to the militarisation of civil society; and it undermines the preparedness and capabilities of the force with respect to its primary mission. There are some exceptions to this general rule, such as disaster relief and search and rescue activities.
  4. Finally, the SANDF can make an important contribution towards developing the country’s human resources through the special training programmes associated with integration and demobilisation. For example, the Service Corps will train its members in a range of vocational skills to prepare them for employment in civil society
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  1. The integration of former government, homeland and guerrilla forces, many of which were once enemies, is a powerful illustration of the government’s commitment to national reconciliation and unity.
  2. Integration has two legs: incorporating into the SANDF all personnel whose names appear on the Certified Personnel Register of the forces identified in the Interim Constitution (with the subsequent inclusion of APLA); and training these members to meet international standards of competence.
  3. Bridging training programmes have been designed to empower members of the SANDF, irrespective of origin, so that they stand an equal chance of demonstrating their suitability for a specific rank and mustering when rationalisation occurs.
  4. The DOD has two governing principles for integration: all members of the SANDF should be treated with respect and dignity; and integration should proceed in the spirit of partnership which characterised negotiations in the pre-election period.
  5. The overarching mission is to establish a new institution which is professional and representative. Representivity refers both to the ethnic composition of the Defence Force and to the fair incorporation of the former armed forces at all ranks. The failure of this mission will critically undermine the legitimacy of the SANDF.
  6. Thus far the process of integration has not been easy or trouble-free. Numerous problems and grievances have emerged and, at times, have given rise to serious tension. Many of these difficulties were inevitable given the political and logistical complexities of merging forces. Nevertheless, the DOD is committed to preventing and managing such problems and tension in a constructive way.
  7. A parliamentary Integration Oversight Committee has accordingly been established to monitor the process; the Committee includes members of the SANDF, the Defence Secretariat and the parliamentary defence committee. In addition, a British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) is responsible for ensuring the fairness of the process.


  1. The system of white conscription was extremely divisive. Many conscripts resorted to draft evasion, conscientious objection and emigration. The `brain drain’ and the disruptive effects of military camps provoked opposition from the private sector, and the racial bias of the call-up exacerbated tension between the black and white communities.
  2. Any continued enforcement of this system would be discriminatory and contrary to the Interim Constitution. A moratorium has therefore been placed on the prosecution of conscripts who do not respond positively to call-ups.
  3. As a result of integration, there is no need to conscript additional personnel into the SANDF. Indeed, forces levels will have to be reduced substantially through a process of demobilisation and rationalisation.
  4. For political, strategic and economic reasons, the SANDF will be an all-volunteer force. It will comprise a relatively small Full-Time (or Permanent Force), backed up by a sufficiently large Part-Time Force. The full-time component has different categories of employment, including a flexible term service system for uniformed members.
  5. There is also a Controlled Reserve which consists of trained personnel who have served but have since departed from the SANDF. These people can be called-up again if required.
  6. A basic structure of this nature is extremely flexible and cost-effective. It will be capable of dealing with potential aggressors but is essentially defensive in nature. It will also provide on-going interaction between “career soldiers” and “citizen-soldiers”.
  7. In order to attract a high quality of recruits and secure the required rate of turnover, appropriate selection criteria, remuneration packages, educational opportunities and training programmes will have to be developed for the all-volunteer force.


  1. The Part-Time Force (PTF) will consist of personnel who serve for short periods on an annual basis. They will be organised, trained and equipped in such a way that they are available for rapid mobilisation alongside Permanent Force members according to the demands placed on the SANDF.
  2. The new PTF will incorporate elements of the existing Citizen Force and Rear Area Protection Units (formerly the Commandos), and will be representative of the composition of the South African population. The size and structure of the PTF will be derived from the force design and structure of the SANDF as a whole.
  3. The DOD is currently investigating the introduction of financial and other incentives to encourage people to volunteer for part-time service. The Ministry is also considering special measures to motivate employers to support members of their staff who are part-time volunteers.
  4. The MOD will recommend to Parliament that statutory recognition be given to a Part-Time Force National Council comprised of representatives of the existing part-time forces and the former liberation armies. The primary goal of the Council would be to promote the PTF as an integral part of the SANDF and to foster the welfare of its part-time members.


  1. As a result of integration, force levels have been greatly inflated. The current size of the SANDF is neither cost-effective nor strategically appropriate.
  2. A process of demobilisation and rationalisation is therefore being planned, and in certain respects is already underway. Over the next few years, after the completion of integration, upwards of 30 000 soldiers and officers may be rationalised or demobilised.
  3. Demobilisation refers to the voluntary release of members of the former non-statutory forces who are constitutionally part of the SANDF but who either do not wish to serve in the Defence Force or are unable to do so for reasons of age, ill-health or aptitude.
  4. Since these people contributed to the struggle against apartheid, it would be unjust to end their military careers without compensation, especially in the case of aged and disabled veterans. They will consequently be assisted financially, as well as through the Special Pensions Act envisaged by the Interim Constitution. It is a matter of great importance that this Act is now promulgated.
  5. Further, the Cabinet has approved the establishment of a Service Corps to upgrade the education and vocational skills of ex-combatants, and to assist in their reintegration into civilian society.
  6. The Service Corps has been conceived as a project of the RDP. It will operate on a national and regional level in conjunction with the RDP and other government departments to administer the demobilisation of an estimated 10 000
  7. Rationalisation will entail the reduction of the Full-Time Force following integration. This process will be based on budgetary considerations and the future size and shape of the SANDF.
  8. Rationalisation will take place according to the following principles: fair labour practice; all members being equally eligible; the enhancement of representivity and productivity; the maintenance of expertise; and the retention of people with a high level of performance or potential.
  9. The DOD is committed to ensure that the process does not discriminate against members of any of the former forces which now make up the SANDF. A formula for achieving proportional representation will therefore have to be determined.
  10. Demobilisation and rationalisation will be handled with great sensitivity. This is both a moral obligation and a political necessity. The experience of neighbouring states suggests that if former soldiers are not assisted in adapting to civilian life they may be a burden on society and may engage in crime and banditry.
  11. The DOD will therefore develop a 3-4 year programme to prepare former soldiers for meaningful civilian careers. In liaison with educational institutions and employer bodies, every effort will be made to identify educational and employment opportunities in civil society.
  12. This programme is essentially a socio-economic project. For budgetary purposes, it should be regarded as part of the RDP rather than the normal defence function.
  13. The DOD will present to Parliament detailed plans for demobilisation and rationalisation once these have been finalised.


  1. The integration of forces has substantially altered the composition of the Defence Force. For historical reasons, however, the SANDF does not yet reflect the demographic composition of South Africa.
  2. In order to secure the legitimacy of the armed forces, the MOD is committed to the long-term goal of overcoming the legacy of apartheid and ensuring that the SANDF, and its leadership in particular, is representative of the South African population.
  3. The Ministry will therefore oversee the design and implementation of an affirmative action and equal opportunity programme.
  4. The emphasis of the programme will be on the training and development of black officers. Appropriate strategies in this regard will include special training courses, career development plans, and the reorientation of recruitment and promotion systems. These strategies are intended to avoid compromising professional standards and damaging the morale of black and white personnel.
  5. The programme will also seek to identify and eliminate discriminatory practises and attitudes in the Defence Force. This is both a constitutional imperative and a matter of `combat readiness’. The SANDF will not perform its functions effectively if capable people are excluded from senior posts because of racism or sexism, or if these tendencies undermine cohesion and morale.
  6. Similarly, it will be necessary to review what is meant by `professional standards’. Certain standards may be unalterable, such as those related to the utilisation of weaponry and equipment, but others may be culturally loaded.
  7. The DOD will present to Parliament more detailed objectives and strategies for equal opportunity and affirmative action in the SANDF. The Minister will also report annually to Parliament on the progress made in implementing the programme.


  1. The DOD is considering various approaches to the question of the appropriate labour relation machinery by means of which the interests of members of the SANDF can be articulated. A comparison with other countries indicates that unionisation, even with severe limitations, is the exception in regard to the armed forces in democratic countries.
  2. The DOD will have to weigh carefully whether this is not an area where reasonable limitations upon conventional labour rights should not be imposed. The following factors need to be noted: the difficult process of integration under way; the ready access to arms and weapons; the importance of the SANDF as a guarantor of stability during the transition; and the potential for the promotion of racial and other divisions in the SANDF.
  3. Such limitations have been recognised in the International Labour Organisation conventions which accept that the armed forces constitute an exception to the usual scope of application of such rights. It is equally clear, however, that members of the SANDF should be entitled to effective and just grievance procedures, channels of communication and other mechanisms for ensuring that their aspirations and complaints are heard and addressed.


  1. Defence budgets are typically the product of a range of considerations: the wealth and size of a country; competing demands on resources from different sectors of government and the population; prevailing and projected threat scenarios; the actual and anticipated role of the Defence Force; and its doctrine and posture.
  2. As indicated previously, in the South African context there is pressure to reduce defence spending substantially:
    2.1 There is an urgent requirement to divert resources to the RDP in order to meet basic socio-economic needs. A failure to meet these needs will generate conflict and instability.
    2.2 There is no conventional military threat in the foreseeable future.
    2.3 South Africa has no aggressive intentions towards any state.
    2.4 South Africa enjoys co-operative relations with its neighbouring states. The non-military threats emanating from instability and underdevelopment in Southern Africa should be tackled primarily by political and socio-economic measures.
    2.5 The ending of the Cold War has given rise to disarmament in many parts of the world, including Southern Africa.
  3. At the same time, there are several reasons to avoid making radical cuts to the defence budget:
    3.1 The SANDF has to maintain a long-term capability to fulfil its primary mission. It is not feasible to create such capability from a low level of preparedness if the need suddenly arises. It is therefore imperative to prepare for the upgrading or rep lacement of obsolete equipment and to retain a sustainable core force Chapter 5.
    3.2 The Interim Constitution provides that the SANDF shall be a balanced, modern and technologically advanced military force.
    3.3 The widespread internal deployment of the SANDF in co-operation with the police necessitates retention of the ability to mobilise substantial numbers of troops.
    3.4 South Africa is expected to play a prominent role in new spheres of activity in Africa and Southern Africa, chiefly peace operations and regional defence co-operation.
    3.5 The integration of forces has raised force levels substantially; a process of rationalisation and demobilisation will consequently be undertaken. The success of integration, demobilisation and rationalisation requires adequate funding.
    3.6 The defence budget has been cut by almost 50% over the past five years. This had a significant impact on the military’s anti-aircraft, armour, air and maritime capabilities in particular.
  4. It is evident from the above that there are competing pressures on the defence budget. This true of most countries, particularly in post-conflict situations.
  5. In democratic societies the debate around defence spending is informed by public opinion and the professional views of the defence establishment and other government departments. The resolution of the debate is the prerogative of Parliament on an ann ual and longer-term basis.
  6. The Defence Review will entail comprehensive long-range planning in the light of approved defence policy and the new political and strategic environment. Well-motivated budgetary forecasts and proposals will emerge from this exercise.
  7. The Defence Review will also include an examination of prevailing conditions in the SANDF with the view to rationalising current spending, eliminating waste and unnecessary duplication, and determining the most efficient means of managing human and ma terial resources.
  8. Prior to the completion of the Defence Review, the DOD will provide Parliament with the information and analysis which is required to make sound decisions on the defence budget.
  9. Finally, the establishment of a relatively small Full-Time Force and a sufficiently large Part-Time Force will be one of the principal means of ensuring a cost-effective defence capability Chapter 6 . It is important to re iterate that demobilisation and rationali-sation will generate additional costs in the medium-term but yield considerable savings in the long-term.


  1. The future of South Africa’s armaments industry, and the related questions of arms trade policy and decision-making procedures, are currently under review by a Cabinet committee. The committee is charged with formulating comprehensive new policy on the industry and the marketing of defence equipment.
  2. The Executive will ensure that South Africa’s arms trade is properly controlled and conducted in a manner which is responsible and based on respect for human rights.
  3. In circumstances of diminishing domestic defence expenditure, the industry will be encouraged to convert production capability to non-military products without losing key technological capacity.
  4. The government is committed to supporting the international cause of arms control and disarmament. It has signed many treaties and participates in several multi-lateral initiatives relating to weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and controversial munitions such as landmines.

Comments and Suggestions Sheet


Ministry of Defence
Private Bag X 427
Pretoria : Telephone [012] 428-2178 — Facsimile: [012] 45-2901
Cape Town: Telephone [021] 469-6017 — Facsimile: [021] 45-5870

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