The South African government’s defence and security materiel State-owned enterprise (SOE) Armscor has not been a United Nations (UN) approved vendor since last September.
The initiative to ensure collective South African representation on the world body’s list of approved vendors was led by former Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford. He saw the move as being a route into the supply chain for UN peacekeeping and other missions in Africa with groups of small, micro and medium-sized enterprises in the local defence industry banding together under the Armscor banner.
Four years ago Wakeford told an SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) conference the UN doesn’t buy military equipment – “it is used and reimbursed” if it meets performance regulations. He saw other avenues for the wider South African economy to benefit financially from UN presences in, for example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali.
“Everything they require,” he told conference delegates, giving food and water as examples, “is about service solutions”. Wakeford, speaking to defenceWeb at the time, said industry in wider sense could be a UN supplier. Footwear, clothing and medical supplies were among so-called personal products he named, along with vehicle tyres as one essential to keeping trucks and personnel carriers (not necessarily armour protected) moving and working.
His assertion then that the UN was not spending money in South Africa is – to a certain extent – offset this week ahead of today’s (Friday) UN Procurement Summit in Pretoria by Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary General for Supply Chain Management at the world body. Saunders said South African companies received about $40 million (about R637 million) – “a relatively small amount”.
“We think the business community in South Africa has more to offer. We buy everything from foodstuffs to transportation, aviation services and fuel,” he is reported as saying.
Responding to a defenceWeb inquiry, Armscor Group Executive: Corporate Support Advocate Ndodomzi Mvambo said the acquisition agency was no longer a registered UN vendor.
“Armscor decided not to renew membership as it did not derive any value
for the duration of the affiliation,” he said.