The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans used a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) question session this week to support the sale of munitions to Turkey.
According to the national broadcaster SABC, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the NCOP the sale of munitions, apparently manufactured by Denel associate company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), was approved by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), chaired by Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu.
The SABC reports her as telling provincial council representatives the sale was approved following advice from, among others, State Security, Defence Intelligence and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO).
She reportedly said there was “nothing” preventing South Africa selling arms to Turkey.
“There are no impediments in law to trade with Turkey in terms of our act. In terms of the act’s provisions, there is always careful analysis and consideration before granting approval. For now, there is nothing preventing us from trading with Turkey. There isn’t even an arms embargo,” she is reported as saying.
The munitions, reportedly for use by Turkish military in “practice and exercises”, were transported to the western Asian country aboard A400M airlifters delivering medical equipment and supplies to South Africa in April and May.
While South Africa’s now notorious Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP), better known as the Arms Deal, has mostly disappeared from public view, diehard anti-arms campaigner Terry Crawford-Brown still monitors government and its agencies when it comes to acquisition and sale of defence equipment.
Of the apparent RDM/Turkey munitions sale he maintains he “alerted” Mthembu and DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor, NCACC deputy chair in April that RDM “was engaged in a major export contract for Turkey”.
“I also expressed concern these munitions would be used in Libya where a RDM mortar shell exported to UAE was photographed.
“End user certificates (EUCs) are notoriously inadequate in preventing arms proliferation and arms trade corruption. In short, South Africa was supplying weapons to both sides in the Libyan conflict, in blatant contradiction of the NCAC Act which stipulates South Africa will not export arms to countries that abuse human rights and/or to regions in conflict. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Libya and Turkey all fail those requirements.
“Six flights of Turkish A400M aircraft arrived in Cape Town from 30 April to 4 May in contravention of the COVID-19 lockdown to uplift RDM munitions. They were crucial in the recent Turkish intervention against Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by UAE and Egypt. Turkey since attacked Kurdish Iraqis.
“The claim by the NCACC it did not know about the Turkish contract is clearly a lie. The NCACC has a 20 year plus history of closing its eyes to the stipulations of the NCAC Act. The obvious implication of the Turkish fiasco is someone in senior authority was bribed to allow the Turkish aircraft to land in Cape Town and uplift RDM munitions.
“Pandor’s claim of great world ‘admiration for South Africa’s defence industry’ is utter garbage. This is an industry of organised crime that makes the Mafia look like saints,” he said.
His comment was in response to Pandor saying there is “great admiration for South Africa’s defence industry. We are on the strict side compared to many parts of the world. It is rare to have members questioned like in South Africa. South Africa holds up a high standard of care…industry sometimes believes legislation rather than being permissive is prohibitive in that permits and approvals are required.”
“RDM with collusion of the NCACC repeatedly flouts our own legislation plus German arms export regulations. It deliberately locates production in countries such as South Africa where the rule of law is weak and bribery is rampant,” the veteran anti-arms campaigner wrote.