Outgoing Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) General Solly Shoke has warned of the dangers of budget cuts for the army.
Shoke delivered his farewell address to the army at the Young’s Field and Simon’s Town Military Bases in Cape Town.
Estimates put the budget cuts for the SANDF at over R15 billion in the medium-term expenditure framework.
Shoke says the country cannot grow its economy if there’s no security.
In a last salute for the outgoing general, he says he’s leaving behind an army with personnel who are highly committed to the protection of the country.
However, he says the dwindling resources allocation poses a serious risk to security.
“South Africans should have to begin to start to have an appreciation for security because you cannot grow the economy without an environment that is secured, and I think we need to take a step backwards and ask ourselves whether we really prioritise security because it will be too late when people start putting money when there’s already danger.”
Shoke has lamented criminality among officers saying their conduct brings the army into disrepute. He has mentioned the stealing of arms and ammunition and rampant use of drugs.
“Once you have a problem, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a problem. We’ve arrested a number of people and that’s a demonstration that wrongdoing is not tolerated within the National Defence Force.”
He has praised the Defence Force for successful operations, including the deployment in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, assisting police to fight gangs on the Cape Flats and putting out the recent fires in Cape Town.
Shoke retires at the end of the month. His replacement, Lieutenant General Rudzani Maphanya, was recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
A handing over parade will take place in Pretoria on 28 May.