The turmoil – now denied in the face of all evidence – at Armscor cannot be good for the organisation, the military, the defence industry or the country.

It has been reported for the last fortnight – and has been on the rumour mill longer – that then-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu sacked Armscor chairman Lieutenant General Moreti “Mojo” Motau: “Having applied my mind to the functioning and operations of the current Board of Armscor, I have decided to appoint Ms R Mokoena as Chairperson of the Armscor Board and Mr EL Borole as Deputy Chairperson of the Armscor Board with immediate effect.” Sisulu was posted to another department in a Cabinet reshuffle the next day.

Motau has reportedly refused to leave his position, on the face of it leaving Armscor with two chairs. It is not clear why the former minister fired Motau but one reason could be the controversial strategy designed to take Armscor into the 21st Century, Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier said. The paper, entitled Repositioning Armscor: Strategy through the 21st Century was reportedly rubbished by Armscor senior management as “a document that shows an abysmal lack of understanding of the business in general and the technicalities in particular”. Business Day newspaper reported last month that two senior Armscor officials had been suspended for reportedly criticising a board-composed strategy for the company as being “irrational” and a “recipe for disaster”.

The strategy was also at odds with the proposal to establish at “Defence Material Organisation” in the Defence Review. And the strategy was also apparently not supported by the defence department. The paper added the action against Pierre Meiring and Kgathatso Thlakudi Meiring and Thlakudi followed the suspension of two other senior officials a few months ago and “represents the continued haemorrhaging of skills and experience from the company.”

Maynier added to this that Armscor chief executive Sipho Mkwanazi has been acting in the position since November 2009 following the suspension and later sacking of Sipho Thomo.

The Department of Defence – not the ministry – yesterday said the new minister will provide clarity on the situation “soon”. Spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini says the minister has yet to meet Armscor, but “would provide clarity on the issue once a meeting was arranged” [and presumably conducted]. We look forward to that.