Doctoral Degrees (Strategic Studies)


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    Twenty years of democracy: An analysis of parliamentary oversight of the military in South Africa since 1994
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2019-04) Janse van Rensburg, Wilhelm Keyter; Vrey, Francois; Neethling, Theo; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Military Sciences. School for Security and Africa Studies: Military Strategy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Prior to 1994, the practice of parliamentary oversight of the military in South Africa was extremely limited. The post-1994 shift to liberal democracy characterised by representativeness and constitutionalism brought about significant changes to the state’s civil-military relations. Within the paradigm of liberalism, civil-military relations were reshaped to ensure civil-supremacy over the military. Parliament, a central feature of representative democracy, emerged as a key institution to ensure democratic civil-military relations. This thesis reviews parliamentary oversight of the military in South Africa between 1994 and 2014 in the context of democratic civil-military relations and the associated characteristics of transparency and accountability. Two distinct parliamentary periods characterised the first twenty years of democracy. The first ten years focused on Parliament’s legislative function while a shift to its oversight function is observed after 2004. Oversight of the military is reviewed separately for these two periods. The study compiles a list of criteria for the review of parliamentary oversight of the military and applies such criteria to the two identified periods. This criteria include the availability and extensive use of oversight tools such as committee hearings, hearings in the plenary, commissions of inquiry, parliamentary questions (oral and written) and interpellations. For parliaments to thoroughly oversee the military, several focus areas were also identified, including the defence budget, policies, procurement, human resources and the deployment of the military. The study aims to enhance these criteria by looking at lower-order focus areas, including annual and quarterly departmental performance, interdepartmental cooperation, military training and education, gender and racial equality, defence morale and defence infrastructure. Furthermore, potential weaknesses for oversight of the military are identified, including the constitutional and legal powers to do oversight; resources and expertise available to parliaments; the political will to conduct oversight; and, follow-up on parliamentary recommendations. Through the application of the criteria above, the study finds that during the first two parliaments (1994 to 2004) efforts were made to define defence policy and legislation within the newfound liberal democratic context. After 2004, focus shifted to the institutions’ oversight function. Parliamentary processes, structures and oversight-enhancing legislation improved significantly between 2004 and 2014 to enrich the potential for thorough oversight. Based on these improvements, and the relatively elevated levels of oversight already achieved by the defence committees in the First Parliament, a continuously improved level of parliamentary oversight of the military could thus be expected. However, oversight of the military did not improve in line with the institutional scope offered for improvement. There was a shift away from de-politicised, consensus-seeking oversight observed during the First Parliament. Oversight tools were not used optimally, focus areas of oversight not balanced and risks to effective oversight manifested over time. A declining political will to conduct oversight is of specific concern. Low levels of oversight became considerably amplified in the Fourth Parliament. The quality of oversight therefore showed contextual regression, bringing into question the standing of parliamentary oversight of the military.