Our sinking Navy, plus five highlights from ‘Vrye Weekblad’

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

20 August 2021 - 06:50
By TimesLIVE
One of the SA Navy's submarines.
Image: Alan Eason One of the SA Navy's submarines.

On the eve of one of the most important maritime safety actions since 1994, the SA Navy is in an existential crisis that can't be allowed to continue. 

Earlier this month the SAS Makhanda, one of the South African Navy’s offshore patrol vessels, sailed into Pemba in northern Mozambique. It was there to begin maritime patrols as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) military mission against the Isis-affiliated Ansar al-Sunna insurgency.

In time, depending on how the mission unfolds and what funding the South African government makes available, it will likely be joined by another Warrior-class patrol ship, at least one of the Valour-class frigates, and one of Heroine-class submarines. Their task will be to patrol the waters of Northern Mozambique.


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On paper, the South African Navy is exceptionally well suited to the task, with the right set of ships, capabilities, and personnel to be able to handle this all on its own.

Reality seldom matches up to what’s on paper though. In truth, if the SA Navy is able to simultaneously deploy two patrol ships, two frigates, and a submarine to Mozambique it will be an immense achievement and testimony to the hard work of its sailors and shipyard personnel. Because that’s far beyond what should be possible given the circumstances.

There are a number of reasons why this sort of deployment is difficult, but by far the most important is a simple one: Money. The SA Navy is grossly underfunded for its force structure, mandated missions, and responsibilities, and has been for years. Its annual budget of just over R4 billion is realistically only adequate for a smaller force with only light patrol ships and no serious deployments required, let alone a technologically advanced navy that’s required to project power into regional waters.

Read more on this, and more news, analysis and interviews in this Friday's edition of Vrye Weekblad. 


Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

THE WEEK IN POLITICS | Max du Preez looks at the ANC's arrogant display in parliament, Koos Kombuis' Blond en Blou, and how judges are appointed. 

THE CIRCUS IN OUR COURTS | Interactions between judge and advocate can be robust but it is always the role of the advocate to convince, rather than to fight and sling insults.

WAKING UP TO GRIEF | Most of us associate the emotions around loss with the death of a loved one, but grief comes in many shapes and forms. 

ALL WAS WELL UNTIL VAN RIEBEECK ARRIVED | We read Niels Posthumus' latest book Alle problemen begonnen met Van Riebeeck: Wat Nederlanders niet weten over hun rol in Zuid-Afrika, that has been described as 'possibly the ultimate book about SA'. 

IN THE HANDS OF THE SATAUNTIES | When resident satirist C. Louise Kortenhoven was invited to the Church of Satan's bazaar, she was in two minds. Everyone enjoys a little curry and rice on a Saturday morning, but at what risk?