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Parliament Seeks Comment on Defence Amendment Bill

December 13, 2019


13 December 2019

Parliament seeks comment on the Defence Amendment Bill.

The national council of provinces (NCOP) passed the bill and returned it to the national assembly (NA) for consideration of a proposed amendment in March 2019.

The bill was passed by the NA and sent to the NCOP for concurrence in September 2018.

It was tabled in parliament in June 2017.

The bill lapsed at the end of the 5th parliament but was revived by the NA in October 2019.

Cabinet approved the bill at the end of March 2017 for tabling.

According to the cabinet statement issued at the time, the proposed legislation seeks to align the Defence Act with current departmental organisational requirements that will enhance the efficiency of the department. The amendments are organisational in nature and apply internally to the department.

The bill aims to amend the Defence Act of 2002 so as to:

• include the Chief of Staff in the Military Command of the Defence Force;
• clarify the process regarding the implementation by the Chief of the Defence Force of the delegation of powers and assignment of duties to members by the Secretary for Defence as head and accounting officer of the Department;
• provide for the employment of the Defence Force outside the Republic;
• simplify matters regarding identification cards issued to military police officials;
• make a technical correction to the reference to the Armaments Corporation of South Africa, Limited in section 18;
• provide for the security vetting of contractors and service providers of the Department;
• regulate the minutes of meetings of the Council of Defence;
• clarify that a person does not need the consent of an employer in order to enrol as, or to remain, a member of the Reserve Force;
• regulate anew the termination of service of members of the Regular Force;
• amend the requirements for legal representation of members;
• regulate the display of military decorations, medals and insignia;
• regulate the use of military uniforms, distinctive marks and crests;
• amend certain powers of the Minister to make regulations;
• provide for the prohibition of access to military property or areas; and
• provide for matters incidental thereto.

The Select Committee on Security and Justice proposed an amendment to Section 103 in the principal act.

Section 103 deals with the board of inquiry in relation to absence without leave.

The proposal is that absence without leave be adjusted from more than 30 days to a continuous period exceeding ten calendar days.

The portfolio committee on defence and military veterans is tasked with considering the proposed amendment.

It seeks comment on the bill until 24 January 2020.