The SANDF has told Parliament that treasury does not support it enough financially and "tell us what to do and not to do".
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has complained that it does not receive the financial support it needs to do its job.
Secretary for defence Sam Gulube told members of Parliament that while his department had a cordial relationship with the national treasury, this was sometimes frustrating.
"But sometimes, personally as an accounting officer, I do feel frustrated that it does appear like a super department to tell us what to do and not to do."
Gulube said in this period of adjustments for expenditure estimates that will be presented by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, his department has indicated areas of unforeseeable expenses it had to embark on, based on instructions that came from the commander-in-chief (President Jacob Zuma) to deploy an intervention brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gulube said this had cost the department an additional R400-million, but when they asked the treasury for more money, they were simply told: "I'm going to give you so much for your operations and so much for your allowances and that is all. The rest you are on your own."
Gulube said when the first defence review was done in 1998, the defence force was only going to be in hospitals, in the military bases and also in the naval yards.
"We were not talking about a defence force that's going to be maintaining maritime security in the anti-piracy projects along the Indian Ocean or deployed in peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur and other places.
"As well as the police were on the border. We were not talking about a defence force that was going to be safeguarding our borders," he said.
He said at that time, the defence review talked about cutting down members of the defence force from 78 000 to 73 000.
"But up to today, when things have changed, the treasury is still holding us to that."
Gulube said the cuts were impossible "when the instructions are that we must build up members of the defence force for rotational purposes, both in the force intervention brigade and now in the standby force for the African Union".
Gulube said for this year's budget, the department will have a shortfall of R950-million or an unauthorised expenditure of R950-million on the human resource budget "because there is no way I can cut down on the members of the defence force".
Gulube said the department finished developing its force design and force structure at the end of July and was waiting for the finalisation of the defence review so that it can be formally adopted.
Earlier, ANC MPs seemed to be goading Gulube about the national treasury.
They repeatedly commented about how the national treasury seemed to be in charge of the defence department's programmes.
After receiving a briefing about retaining skills in the South African Air Force, ANC MP Nombeko Daniels commented: "We are all waking up to the fact that if we have policy, treasury will put money there …"
She said she hoped the national treasury will not delay the implementation of the newly-completed force design and force structure once the defence review was finalised.
Another ANC MP Nyami Booi said: "I'm worried about this, comrade secretary. Is it the treasury that you are accounting to, do you have to tell them everything you do?
"It seems they determine everything that has to be done in this department. Why does it look like they have total control over this particular development?
"We must be very emphatic upon force design and force structure and treasury must respond to our conclusions. Rather than consulting wth treasury for every step you take, what type of delegation of power is that? Who runs the department, is it treasury or yourself?"
Booi called for the committee to intervene on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance's David Maynier pointed out that the national treasury decides on the iron law of public policy in South Africa.
The committee has decided that the treasury will be called into account.