defence secretariat office
 

Welcome to the Defence Secretariat

During the apartheid era the Department of Defence was militarised, with most of its functions being performed by the Defence Headquarters. In the interests of entrenching democratic civil-military relations, the Defence Act provides for a Department of Defence which comprises the SANDF and a civilian Defence Secretariat.

The Minister of Defence is responsible for the defence function of government and is accountable to the President, the Cabinet and Parliament for the management and execution of this function. The Minister constitutes the civilian authority on military matters on behalf of Cabinet.

The minister Directs and controls performance of the defence function through, inter alia, the statutory Council on Defence. The Chief of the SANDF and the Secretary for Defence serve on this body. They have equal status under the Minister, and serve as co-chairpersons of the Defence Staff Council which tenders advice to the Minister.

The respective statutory powers and functions of the Chief of the SANDF and the Secretary for Defence are governed by the Defence Act of 2002.

The Secretary for Defence manages the Secretariat and will be the accounting officer of the DOD. He/She is the principal advisor to the Minister regarding defence policy and matters which may be investigated by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. The Secretary will perform such duties and functions as may be necessary for democratic and civilian management of the defence function and to enhance parliamentary and Ministerial control over the SANDF. The Secretary will monitor compliance with directions issued to the Chief of the SANDF by the President or the Minister.

The Chief of the SANDF executes defence policy, directs the work of Defence Headquarters and manages the overall functioning and operations of the Defence Force. He/She is the principal adviser to the Minister on military, operational and administrative matters within his/her competence.

In determining the respective functions of the Secretariat and Defence Headquarters, there are two basic guidelines. Firstly civilians formulate defence policy and the military executes this policy. Secondly, civilians are responsible for the political dimensions of defence. This breakdown does not prevent military officers from contributing to policy formulation on the basis of their functional expertise.

It is intended that a large number of posts, of which the greater number will be the Financial Section, will be transferred from defence Headquarters to the Secretariat.

The minister aims to staff these posts predominantly with civilians. The composition of the Secretariat will be broadly representative of the racial and gender composition of South African society. This will be achieved through selective recruitment, accelerated training, civilianisation of present incumbents and lateral entry. Senior military officers are not precluded from being seconded to work in the secretariat on the basis of their functional expertise.

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