n African Security Review - Military spending, socio-economic challenges and foreign policy demands : appraising South Africa's predicament : essay

Volume 15, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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The extensive reduction of defence expenditure for post-apartheid South Africa has created challenges for force development and preparation as well as the ability of the armed forces to deliver on expectations. For example, budgetary allocations were more than halved between 1989 and 1997, a development that was soon followed by a stagnant 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) defence allocation. This decline in financial resources also manifested itself in the human resources element, reducing the 93, 000 posts declared in 1999 to the projected 70, 000 (including civilians). Against this background, South Africa's socio-economic commitments as well as deployments in support of foreign policy have continued to escalate forcing the current expenditure revision to rise to 2 per cent of GDP. However, against the considerations of an increasing influence and interest in Africa and international affairs, even with a domestic unemployment rate of 42 per cent and widening income disparities, this investment is considered worthwhile. The essay argues the existence of is a minimalist approach, adopted by the South African government in which there is a careful mix of foreign policy, economic rationality and limited military involvement to produce a military credible capacity that is consistent with the country's ability to finance but whose main (primary) task is to operate in support of its wider interests on the African continent. In the final analysis, the paper argues that if South Africans should compare what they are paying for the military, they would actually discover that they are paying far less than most other nations.

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