Tuesday, January 18

Local manufacturing of new army uniforms will create jobs


The decision to manufacture new uniforms for the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) entirely in South Africa will create much-needed jobs in the textile and clothing industry, says the Textile Federation.

The new uniforms will be manufactured locally in accordance with government regulations designed to boost the garment industry. At first, the special fabric needed for uniforms was imported, but now local manufacturers are being taught how to make it.

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The Textile Federation (Texfed) has welcomed SANDF’s decision to purchase these new uniforms locally. Brian Brink, CEO of Texfed, told GroundUp that the project would help grow the local textile and apparel industry and create “desperately needed job opportunities.”

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which has been spearheading the new design of the uniforms, says it is speaking with local textile manufacturers to supply the material for the uniforms, which are scheduled to launch later this year.

the Framework Law for Preferential Procurement Policies (PPPFA) stipulates that goods ordered by state institutions must contain a minimum of local content. The policy was first introduced in 2011 in an attempt to protect South Africa’s industry and jobs.

The Department of Commerce and Industry designates the minimum level for each industry or sector, and in the case of clothing and textiles this is 100%.

Simon Eppel, a researcher with the Southern African Garment and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), said this ensures that local job opportunities are created and preserved.

This is especially the case for state institutions, which have a responsibility to meet these minimum thresholds when purchasing large orders, such as SANDF uniforms.

SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed that the new uniforms would be manufactured locally.

He said that during the design stage, the woven fabric had to come from abroad as “there is no local capacity to provide the required material.”

But the CSIR, in an attempt to “empower the local industry,” had been working with local manufacturers to supply the material or the final order, Mgobozi said.

Landwards Impact Area CSIR Manager Tleyane Sono said: “We support our local industries and always look for materials and components locally before going abroad.” He said the CSIR was investigating the best options for the materials and that the materials would still need to be tested.

Department of Commerce and Industry spokesman Bongani Lukhele said the department had written to SANDF to “draw its attention to the need to comply with the localization policy in its procurement processes.”

Problems with uniforms and boots were first raised by SANDF soldiers more than three years ago in 2018 after a deployment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Three years later, in response to a question, the then Minister of Defense and Military Veterans said that trials for the new uniform models had started in June this year and that the full provision was scheduled for December. New boots had been supplied for soldiers since the beginning of July.

© 2021 GroundUp.

This article was published for the first time here, and republished with permission.


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