The joys of affirmative action
The SA Air Force has lost 91 pilots and 822 technicians since 2005, according to Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.
In a written reply to a question in the National Assembly, he said financial imperatives were among the main reasons for personnel leaving the SAAF.
"White members have a perception that there are limited career opportunities within the organization. (gee, I wonder what prompted them to think affirmative action restricted their opportunities?)
"This prompts them to seek other opportunities elsewhere, moreover for remuneration packages far beyond what the SAAF can offer to retain skills," Lekota said.
Since the latter part of 2007 the SAAF had experienced a number of its members seeking employment abroad.
More qualified, skilled personnel
It was not necessarily foreign employment agencies' recruitment drives that caused personnel to leave the SAAF, because many of the resignations were linked to contact with colleagues who were already abroad and employed by companies or organisations that were in search of more qualified and skilled personnel.
Such resignations were often prompted by various personal reasons such as immediate citizenship, extended flying careers in the case of aircrew and other perceived advantages such as low crime and a good standard of living, Lekota said.
The SAAF currently had only 20 operational fighter pilots, of which two were black, male pilots and one a white female. There were four trainee fighter pilots of which two were black males.
Air Force collapsing
Altogether 123 pilots were currently under training in the SAAF.
Commenting on the reply, Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said it was clear the Air Force was collapsing.
"Apart from the concern about the pilots, the true crisis is the huge number of technicians that have been lost," he said. Aircraft cannot be maintained without technicians.