Parliament, Wednesday, 23 November 2022 – The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans has successfully concluded its oversight visit to Bloemspruit Air Force Base to, among other things, assess the successes of the base and challenges the base faces. The base is home to the locally made Rooivalk combat helicopter, 16 Squadron and Helicopter Flying School.

The Officer Commanding for Bloemspruit Air Base told the committee that the base faced various challenges and the greatest one is its inability to service helicopters, unavailability of spares as well as the lack of machinery to maintain hangers and runways. The Commander highlighted the tedious procurement and administrative policies they operate under which lead to inefficient running of the base.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Cyril Xaba, said: “Funding of the National Defence Force remains unresolved and if the solution is not found that could spell disaster for the safety and security of the country.” He said the role of South Africa in the security of the Southern African region is crucial if the country fails to service its prime defence equipment it could result in the country not being considered for peace keeping missions.

The committee has noted with concern that due to operational issues, the base also suffered during the truck drivers’ strike which left the base with less diesel and fuel stocks. The committee recommended better management systems to ensure that there is enough fuel stocks as fuel is an essential component for operations for the air force to protect South African airspace.

The issue of military veterans demands an emergency action plan by the state as the Department of Military Veterans gives money back to the National Treasury every year whereas the needs of the military veterans were not addressed. The committee said it would like to see that benefits of the military veterans are paid before the end of the current financial year.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS, MR CYRIL XABA.

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