South Africa: The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCODMV) led by Honourable Cyril Xaba (Chairperson) visited Air Force Station Port Elizabeth situated at Army Support Base Eastern Cape on Thursday, 30 March 2023.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is one of the portfolio committees of the National Assembly of South Africa. It oversees the operations of the Department of Defence and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (currently Honorable Thandi Modise) as well as multiple statutory entities, including Armscor, the Castle Control Board, the Defence Force Service Commission, the Military Ombud, and Reserve Force Council.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans’ aim during their oversight visit was to oversee the capacity and capabilities of Air Force Station Port Elizabeth and assess the primary role of the Station, which is maritime and landward search and rescue.
The Officer Commanding the Station, Lieutenant Colonel Kamohelo Mosiane, was well prepared for this visit, as he confidently presented to the Committee covering the funding levels, capabilities, successes, challenges and the general overview of roles and functions for the Station inclusive of 15 Squadron Charlie Flight.
The Officer Commanding was supported by the Deputy Chief of the South African Air Force, Major General MacDonald Matanda, Acting Director Corporate Staff Services, Brigadier General Hilton Smith, Senior Staff Officer Corporate Communication, Colonel Marius Bosch in engaging with questions and answers with the Committee.
The Corporate Communications team assisted with the planning and coordination of this visit, working closely with other services and divisions. However, ASB Eastern Cape played a support role for this very successful gathering by hosting and catering for the visit.
The internal stakeholders that supported this engagement were The South African Military Health Services (Area Military Health Unit), Military Police, Naval Station Port Elizabeth, Joint Technical Headquarters Eastern Cape, Regional Work Eastern Cape, Eastern Cape Signal Unit and Army Support Base Eastern Cape. All the above-mentioned participated professionally during the meeting and engaged well with the Members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans.
During the engagements, Washington Mafanya questioned the relevance of the South African National Defence Force when there is no long-term risk or threat to the borders of the country, which led to directing the conversation towards an emphasis on the primary function of the Defence Force, which is to defend South Africa against external military or threats. The capabilities of the SANDF with its personnel have to be maintained and updated to suit the primary function to be efficient and effective.
The Chairperson, Cyril Xaba, appreciated the transparency and the suggested possible solutions that were presented before the Committee. He further explained that transparency within the Defence Force assists the Committee in understanding the capacity challenges and the budget constraints that limit effectiveness in the organisation.
The members in attendance from the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans were the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, Cyril Xaba (ANC), Honorable Thabo Mmutle (ANC), Honorable Tidimalo Legwase (ANC), Honorable Madipoane Mothapo (ANC), Honorable Washington Mafanya (EFF), Honorable Sarel Marais (DA), and Honorable Maliyakhe Shelembe (DA).
The oversight visit concluded with a tour of 15 Squadron Charlie Flight under the command of Major Corrie Oberholzer.