The decay at Denel has reached the stage where it is affecting combat readiness of especially the SA Air Force (SAAF) with a call for Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) to urgently investigate.
This was Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais’ reaction to a SAAF letter seeking guidance on providing financial authority approval for payments to the struggling State-owned enterprise.
Aircraft systems in danger of not remaining airworthy are C-130BZ Hercules cargo aircraft, Oryx medium transport helicopter and the South African designed and built Rooivalk combat support rotorcraft. This, according to a letter from Major General Setete Malakoane, SAAF Chief Director: Force Development and Support, is concerning for the Air Force in terms of Denel meeting its contractual obligations for product support and maintenance.
In addition to taking up the decaying Denel issue on social media, Marais approached JSCD co-chair Cyril Xaba requesting the committee look closely at internal preparedness of the entire SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
He termed the letter “an alarming one” as it showed the national defence force’s “internal concerns regarding Denel’s capacity and financial challenges” and how these are and will impact on the efficacy of the air force in particular and the armed forces overall.
“Denel’s collapse has reached the stage where it poses a threat to SANDF defence and operational abilities. If allowed to go unchecked this could leave South Africa vulnerable. The current situation in northern Mozambique is an example if instability spreads across the sub-continent from there.”
The DA wants SANDF leadership to appear at the JSCD with Marais emphasising “as Parliamentarians we have a constitutional responsibility to investigate this growing crisis as it affects the South African military machine”.
“It is definitely a matter of national importance,” he maintains, adding government; the Cabinet; Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa “are all complicit in allowing development of this unacceptable situation”.
Marais told defenceWeb he will “leave no stone unturned” in his personal effort to stop the Denel rot and keep the air force flying.