Ailing State-owned defence and technology conglomerate Denel was told “there’s no need to sugar coat or hide anything” by the acting chair of a Parliamentary defence oversight committee.
The remark, according to a Parliamentary Communication Service statement, was made by Thabo Mmutle during an oversight visit to Denel facilities in and around Pretoria last week.
Mmutle, a former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) national executive member, was named a ruling party parliamentarian following the 2019 general election where he was ranked 108th on the ANC’s national candidate list.
Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) members went to Denel Land Systems (DLS) in Lyttelton, Centurion after calling in on Armscor’s Gerotek, Protechnik, Ergotech and Hazmat facilities west of Pretoria and in Centurion’s Highveld Techno Park as part of a two-day oversight visit.
The DLS visit was, according to the statement, “to conduct site inspection on the status of Badger development”. Denel officials, again according to the statement, told the Parliamentarians, contractual obligations were not met “due to Armscor’s refusal to accept contract deliverables on Hoefyster (the long-delayed project for new SA Army infantry fighting vehicles)”.
The committee said Denel needed to be truthful on why they could not meet targets to their client the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Mmutle reportedly said there was no need for sugar coating or hiding as Denel was “way behind timelines” for delivery on Project Hoefyster. “The committee appreciated the presentation and walkabout which it said was ‘impressive’,” adding Denel’s presentation was “untruthful”.
Both State-owned entities can expect a call from the defence oversight committees to shed light on “the way forward” in resolving Hoefyster “challenges”.
The statement covering the oversight visit also has it the committee expressed “concern” about the poor quality of boots supplied to the military when it was at Ergotech in Highveld Techno Park.
A recommendation for research and development for “suitable shoes for the military” was made to management of the specialist ergonomics consultancy. Its military ergonomics research includes anthropometry, biomechanics, human physiology, cognitive ergonomics and human functional performance. Also on the Ergotech ‘menu’ is design and specification of human/machine systems, test and evaluation of environmental stressors, human/machine systems and specialised health and safety issues.
New boots for the landward force is part of the current project to replace the existing work wear uniform of the SA Army, generally termed ‘camouflage’. The boots issue was raised by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais after a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) oversight visit in 2018. Others unhappy about apparently poor quality footwear in the national defence force include the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) and former defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
After visiting the Gerotek test facility, which includes a high-speed track and skid pad for advanced driving, the committee recommended that Gerotek engage with government departments to ensure that its facilities are used optimally by stakeholders within and outside the security structures.
Furthermore, the committee recommended that Gerotek market its services to stakeholders such as the South African Police Service, the Department of Transport and traffic police to generate revenue for the entity.
The committee was informed that there were people who have occupied the land and built houses next to Gerotek’s testing facilities and that situation needed to be addressed. Mmutle said: “The committee recommended that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure can be engaged to explore the possibility of transferring the land to Gerotek directly.”