Another depressing view of the depths State-owned defence conglomerate Denel has sunk to comes from a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian following an oversight visit to Ekurhuleni-based Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS).
Michelle Clarke, the party’s shadow deputy public enterprises minister, will “urgently engage” Pravin Gordhan, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Minister responsible for State-owned enterprises (SOEs), after visiting DVS in Benoni. She is the second Opposition parliamentarian to take up Denel issues with Minister Gordhan in less than a month. Benedicta van Minnen, a member of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) is still waiting for him to answer her on allegations of reckless trading at Denel.
“The company (DVS) is reduced to empty factories and has lost a highly competent and skilled workforce,” Clarke said in a statement after visiting the company once responsible for upgrading the Olifant main battle tank.
“Three divisions – OMC, Gear Ratio and Mechatronics – responsible for armoured vehicles, turret and fire control systems and driveline systems, once boasted around 1 200 highly skilled staff. The staff compliment is currently 200 people being paid at 50% of their salaries.
“The plants, which manufactured highly sophisticated combat vehicles including RG31s, RG32s and RG41s are at a standstill. No vehicles are being manufactured due to Denel’s financial woes. The building and plant represents a ghost town,” according to her statement.
Looking forward Clarke reported there are “tenders out” adding “a contract to manufacture vehicles for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has not started and we found the procurement process so complex it is impossible to ensure purchases are done in order to continue with business”.
“DVS do not have capital to finance tenders and contracts in the pipeline. It does not possess capital to sustain itself. If a partnership is not brought on board as soon as possible, I anticipate the company will not be able to operate beyond May 2021,” she said.