The Joint Standing Committee on Defence has emphasised the significance of investing more in innovative technological interventions as force multipliers to enhance the work of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to safeguard South Africa’s borders.

The committee made the remarks after receiving an update on the implementation of Operation Corona, which has the mandate of defending South Africa’s territorial integrity.

Co-Chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba said the committee is acutely aware of the serious capacity challenges affecting the operation negatively, but supports fully the intention to incrementally bring into play sensors and radars as a force multiplier in the medium term.

Xaba said the challenge of lengthy procurement has been highlighted as a general impediment to the SANDF’s work.

“The committee urged SANDF senior leadership to work with the National Treasury to find solutions to ensure that this ongoing problem is resolved and that capabilities are made available to deploy soldiers on the ground,” Xaba said.

The committee also highlighted the need for SANDF to work with related government departments at all levels to find solutions to the infrastructure challenges on the border, which include poor fencing, patrol roads and access routes.

“A collaborative effort is necessary to remove the impediments that make it difficult to safeguard our borders. Deployed soldiers’ morale should also receive proper attention, as these impacts negatively on operations.

“In line with this and in full awareness of funding shortcomings, the committee called for improved facilities within the deployment area to enhance morale,” Xaba said.

Signing and implementation of operational protocols welcomed

The committee has also commended the signing and implementation of operational protocols between the Department of Defence and the Border Management Authority to regulate effective cooperation at borderlines.

The committee further welcomed an assurance that the cooperation has been effective thus far and urged further cooperation.

“The porous nature of our borders requires cooperation by all stakeholders to ensure success. The committee has called for enhanced cooperation within the security cluster to find solutions and ensure efficiencies at the borderline,” said Committee Chairperson, Elleck Nchabeleng.

The committee acknowledged the work done by the security cluster at the borderline despite varied challenges, and emphasised the need for continuous improvements to ensure South Africa’s territorial integrity on land, air and maritime borderlines.