/ 20 December 2022

Thandi Modise (Grade C)

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Defence Minister Thandi Modise. (Photo by Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Defence and Military Veterans

Key Goals

  1. Ensure compliance with external peace missions: Achieved
  2. Deploy units to safeguard borders: Achieved
  3. Maritime coastal patrols conducted: Achieved
  4. Delivery of military veterans benefits: Failed


The department of defence has made progress towards achieving some of its key goals during Thandi Modise’s first full year in office, but its financial management continues to be of real concern, as does its failure to make full disclosures to the auditor general.

During the 2021-22 financial year, defence received a qualified audit opinion for the third year in a row, in part because of R3.153 billion in irregular expenditure, up on the R2.182 billion in irregular expenditure incurred in 2020-21. This included R2.7 billion overspend on salaries and  R187 million on irregular foreign imports relating to Project Thusano, through which Cuba has been contracted to maintain military vehicles and equipment.

The auditor general reported that it was again unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence with regard to the Special Defence Account and failed to fully record irregular expenditure. The military was unable to account for property valued at R64.7 billion and has also failed to correctly spend R225 million from the treasury allocated for border safeguarding technology.

Concerns have been raised in parliament about the failure to meet targets for sea hours for the navy and flying hours for the air force, mainly due to maintenance constraints, and the need for an upgrade of frigates, submarines and aircraft, which has been funded and is underway.

Progress has been poor in implementing the recommendations of the 2015 Defence Review and has failed to achieve milestone one, aimed at “arresting the decline” in the South African National Defence Force.

Parliament has asked the treasury to ringfence funding for border technology, frigate, submarine and aircraft upgrades and an intervention to fund the country’s armoured car fleet.

It has also recommended that Modise implement effective consequence management over irregular and wasteful expenditure; address procurement deficiencies; properly staff its internal audit division and ensure timely cooperation with the auditor general.

Minister Says

The focus of the defence force in the short to medium term will be on the repair, maintenance and overhaul of existing defence capabilities, especially those capabilities required for current operations. Although we are concerned about our ever declining resources, we must get the job done with what little we have.


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