Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the department, which has deployed most of its forces and operations to the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic, has allocated R3 billion to COVID-19 operational costs.
The Minister said this when she presented the department’s spending priorities during a virtual sitting of the National Assembly.
On 24 June 2020, the Minister of Finance announced that the Defence Special Budget Allocation for the fight against COVID-19 was an amount of R3 billion. These funds will be for the operational costs associated with the fight against the pandemic, as well as the procurement of personal protective equipment.
“For our purposes, this will go through costs already incurred and others still underway, including repatriation flights, quarantine costs, deployment of reserve forces, air support operations, quarantine clinics, medical equipment and ambulances,” she said.
Providing the last defence at the eye of the storm
Addressing MPs, Mapisa-Nqakula said the department’s role has been to ensure support for the fight against the pandemic through the Department of Health by providing the required expertise inherent in our South African Military Health Services (SAMHS).
The military health services have provided health professionals across the spectrum in all the provinces, drawn from the regulars, reserve forces and volunteers.
“The health care professionals provide services to our own members and the National Health Department – through primary health care teams for screening, testing and tracing purposes across the country; mass quarantine sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo respectively; decontamination teams, to mention but a few.
“As I speak on this debate, a team of our military health professionals have been deployed to the Eastern Cape at the request of the Premier and provincial government.
“That is just one part of a range of deployments we have been involved in,” she said.
The deployment of forces was an integral part of the enforcement of the national state of disaster.
“In addition to the military health elements, there is a range of capabilities that have been deployed,” she said.
This includes engineers for bridge building and water purification in various communities; air defence and maritime capabilities; landward capabilities for security and direct support to the police services and other entities of government.
“We have since the beginning of the declaration of national disaster, by means of lockdown, run all these operations related to the COVID-19 under the rubric of Operation Notlela, Lockdown!”