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South Africa releases defence budget

South Africa's defence budget in real US dollars. (Janes)

The South African defence budget for 2022/23 has marginally increased from the previous year's adjusted allocation of ZAR48.79 billion (USD3.3 billion) to ZAR49.09 billion, according to figures released by the treasury on 23 February.

The Medium Term Expenditure Framework plan will decrease to ZAR47.96 billion in 2023/24 and then a slight increase to ZAR49.27 in the following year. This means defence is expected to drop from 0.8% of GDP in 2021/2022 to 0.68% in 2024/2025.

While the National Treasury intends to phase out the Special Defence Account, which is used to fund long-term acquisition projects, it has been increased from about ZAR1 billion to ZAR1.95 billion in the current year and then ZAR1.89 billion and ZAR1.97 billion in the following two years. Those funds are primarily allocated to the navy's current ship-building programmes and Defence Intelligence projects.

As in previous years, the bulk of the funding covers personnel costs, which will absorb about 62.7% over the three-year period even though there has been a small decrease in regular personnel, reduced call-ups of reserve personnel, and new recruits are now inducted every second year. This year the Treasury allocated ZAR 1.8 billion for severance packages to facilitate a further cut in the regular strength.

The three-year allocation includes ZAR2.7 billion for border patrols and domestic operations (roughly a ZAR250 million per year increase) and ZAR3.7 billion to cover the cost of deployments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Mozambique. The latter represents a reduction of about ZAR400 million per year from the previous year, despite the additional commitment to Mozambique in 2021.

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