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Saturday, May 25, 2024

South Africa: Balance Required to Ensure Sustainability of Regular Force Medical Continuation Fund

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence has called on current South African National Defence Force members to reconsider their resistance to the increase in their contributions to ensure that the Regular Force Medical Continuation Fund (RFMCF) remains viable and sustainable. The committee is concerned that the sustained low contribution model will have dire consequences for members when they retire. The envisioned balance will ensure quality medical services upon retirement.

“While the committee acknowledges that the RFMCF is a private entity, it is important to ensure the viability of the fund because it ensures the wellbeing of members after retirement. The welfare of our members, active or retired, is important,” said Mr Cyril Xaba, the co-Chairperson of the committee.

While the committee welcomed the fund’s improved financial management and governance, it emphasised that its funding model should be reconsidered in the light of the cost of healthcare, which is above inflation in most cases.

The committee also highlighted the consequences of weaknesses within the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS), which directly impacts on the fund’s viability and which has resulted in the increased use of the private sector. A functional SAMHS should be providing quality healthcare to all its members, both active and retired. “We have been emphatic about the need to resolve challenges facing the SAMHS to ensure that it is enabled to provide adequate support to all members and also save the fiscus excessively high private medical costs,” said Mr Mamagase Nchabeleng, the co-Chairperson of the committee.

Meanwhile, the committee unanimously supported the President’s decision to deploy 3 300 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members for service in cooperation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to combat crime and maintain and preserve law and order under Operation Prosper. The SANDF deployment is part of the security cluster’s efforts to address the prevailing high level of brazen organised crime and illicit mining.

While the committee supports the deployment, it is concerned that the unfunded mandate will have an impact on the Department of Defence’s baseline budget, especially in light of further budget cuts. Despite this, the committee acknowledged that illegal mining is a serious challenge and requires the active participation of all to defeat it.

The committee further highlighted that the SANDF deployment is a short-term solution and that broader solutions must be developed to deal with this crime.  

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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