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Decline in funding could hurt SANDF operations

The defence minister says the SANDF has to get creative by developing a new funding model.

SANDF soldiers. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says South Africa must decide whether it still wants the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to carry out peacekeeping operations abroad, and that without sufficient funding it will have to "close shop".

Mapisa-Nqakula says the defence department's R47 billion budget represents just over one percent of GDP and will fall below that in the 2018/2019 financial year.

She says other southern African countries spend more than two percent of GDP on defence.

At the same time, the minister has confirmed plans to buy a new presidential jet, but she has disputed the R4 billion price tag it will reportedly cost.

Mapisa-Nqakula says the current decline in defence spending is not sustainable.

"For me this budget is a watershed budget. This country either decides whether it needs the South African National Defence Force and needs to continue to commit ourselves to supporting our foreign policy objectives, in order to go into the continent and provide for peace and stability to create conditions for economic development, or that indeed the SANDF should close shop."

Mapisa-Nqakula says at risk is the department's ability to rejuvenate the SANDF and compensate employees.

She says the defence force has to get creative by developing a new funding model to be able to fulfll its constitutional mandate effectively.

MAPISA-NQAKULA DISMISSES CLAIMS BY EFF

Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula says she has no reason to be concerned that South Africa's soldiers will turn on President Jacob Zuma and insists SANDF members are patriotic.

She was responding to a warning by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema that Zuma should leave office before the army turns its guns on him.

Malema made the statement during his party's election manifesto launch in Soweto last month.

Mapisa-Nqakula says Malema's comments are reckless.

"For now we have no information which suggests that this defence force consists of people who are not loyal to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and therefore would easily take arms against the State.

WATCH: EFF: We have the best manifesto for SA

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