African Reserves

Last call to C-in-C on botched Reserve Force call

A disgruntled officer from the Umzimvubu regiment, tasked as enlistment warrant officer for an enlistment call for Operation Prosper last July, turned to President Cyril Ramaphosa as commander-in-chief of the Force of National Defense SA (SANDF) in a last resort to deal with the appeal debacle.

Remarks made in writing to Ramaphosa include “outlandish decisions” by senior officers directly impacting volunteers – all with military experience – who are not paid, either in cash or through purported electronic funds transfers ( EFT). The SANDF C-in-C is also advised that apart from the discontent of 815 volunteer volunteers, there have been eight deaths surrounding the ill-fated call (from coronavirus and other causes).

The Umzimvubu officer further writes: “The members who died deserve the same benefits and the same funerals as the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in places like the Central African Republic (CAR), DR Congo and Mozambique “.

‘They responded to a call,’ he continues, telling Ramaphosa he has ‘strong feelings’ about the treatment of volunteers and that he himself remains unpaid for his time and work a year after the call. .

The issues with the call-up resulted in the convening of a Board of Inquiry (BOI). His final report was processed through the SA Army Reserves and Reserve Force channels with, according to the officer, nothing done yet.

Another bone of contention around the appeal is an apparent lack of coordination to ensure logistics – down to basics such as accommodation, beds, rations and even toilet paper. This saw another officer from Umzimvubu, a lieutenant in charge of appeal logistics, spending his time, money and using his personal vehicle, to travel to Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth on a hunt to at least keep the new recruits clothed, fed and under shelter.

The warrant officer and logistics officers argue that the non-payment is because the recruits were never properly administered. “Enrolling people in the personnel system – better known as persol – in the full-time and reserve components is fundamental and essential to being compensated for time spent in uniform. The fact that it hasn’t been redone shows the randomness of the call,” they told defenceWeb.

This publication has requested detailed information on the call-up, BOI and possible further developments from the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC). Brigadier General Andries Mahapa’s leadership generally acts as a clearing point for media inquiries and would have – or should have – referred defenseWeb questions to Defense and/or Army Reserves. No response has yet been received.

The enlisted 815s, after apparently going through all the necessary processes supposedly spelled out in an order to the regiment in mid-2021, were sent home three months after reporting for duty. In May this year, only 57 of those who voluntarily reported to work received a month’s salary, with the remaining payment still pending.