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Other South African Statutory Forces


An Overview of the Armed Forces of the TBVC Countries*

By Dr Jakkie Cilliers

Director, Institute for Defence Policy

*This article was compiled from a series of interviews with members and former members of the TBVC armed forces over some months. Regrettable no footnotes are possible.

Published in South African Defence Review Issue No 13, 1993


This article presents a brief historical overview of the development and present status of the armed forces of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei (TBVC countries). It represents as complete a record of these forces as has yet been published. It should be noted however, that no attempt has been made to place the facts within a broad context, apart from a brief discussion of the development of the forces and their involvement in domestic political issues. More quantitatively, the composition and strength of each of the TBVC defence forces are listed. Outlines, rather than exhaustive inventories, of the military and support equipment of the forces is also provided. Finally, defence expenditure figures are provided where these are available.

All four of the TBVC forces were established by the South African Defence Force (SADF) and have, to varying degrees, adopted SADF training systems and standards. For this reason the SADF has been used as a benchmark in the determination of comparable standards. However, the constantly changing SADF course and promotion systems complicates any ready comparison in terms of SADF qualification requirements.




There can be little doubt that the armed forces of the TBVC countries represent a significant repository of black officers and non-commissioned officers outside of the SADF. Given the requirement for affirmative action, and despite the obvious top-heavy leadership of these forces, these persons are probably set to play a significant role in a future defence force. This having been said, South Africa does not need, nor can it afford the armed forces that will result from the simple amalgamation of the SADF, the TBVC armed forces, MK, APLA, etc. Integration will have to go hand in hand with demobilisation and possibly an evaluation of qualification for rank accross the spectrum.

Even if the total defence budgets of the TBVC countries, roughly R500 million, is added to the existing SADF budget, it is doubtfull whether this will cater for the direct and indirect costs associated with a military in a transitional South Africa, given the costs of demobilisation, integration, internal deployment in support of the SA Police, the costs associated with the establishment and running of the sub-council of defence, etc. Clearly a great deal of additional research and planning is required.



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