The South African Defence Review of 2012: Problems, Progress and Prospects

In July 2011, an independent committee was appointed by the South African Minister of Defence, Lindiwe Sisulu, to undertake a review and update of national defence policy in compliance with the requirements of a Defence White Paper issued in 1996. The Defence Review Committee issued a 423-page draft report in April 2012, and scheduled a series of public imbizos and meetings with interested parties and experts across South Africa to consult and seek public consensus on this first review of national defence policy since 1998. About 75 academics, civil society leaders, military experts, and diplomats were convened by the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss the document, which was described as a “constitution for the defence force’s future” by the committee’s chair, former South African Minister of Defence (1991-1992), Roelf Meyer. After the nation-wide consultation, a revised draft of the report was scheduled to be submitted to Parliament for approval in August 2012. The draft South African Defence Review 2012 aims to support goals set by the national government and proposes a “fundamental shift” from the priorities of the previous review in 1998, which focused on the integration of forces from the former South African army and the African National Congress’s (ANC) Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) after democratic rule was established in 1994; and the normalisation of security relations in Southern Africa following the wars and destabilisation efforts of the apartheid regime against the frontline states which resulted in an estimated one million deaths and $60 billion in damage in the 1980s.