Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSDC) has asked questions about military hardware exported to Turkey “that might” have found its way to strife-torn Libya.
Addressing the oversight committee by invitation last week, Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency and chair of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), is reported as saying the committee had “no previous knowledge” of military hardware destined for Libya.
“The JSCD was told the NCACC has requested a report from the Ministers responsible for International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee and the Department of Defence (DoD),” according to a Parliamentary Communication Services statement.
There are published images of South African sniper rifles and Mbombe armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in Libya. The APCs, designed by Paramount Group, are believed to have reached the troubled North African country via Jordan and are apparently in service with Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
The Turkish reference was in all probability to Turkish Air Force A400M Atlas transport aircraft that landed in South Africa in April and May. The airlifters were reported as bringing medical equipment and supplies to assist in efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, part of a co-operation agreement. It was reported that the aircraft took on munitions from Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) for the return leg of the Turkey/South Africa flight. All told four Turkish Atlas airlifters were in South – and elsewhere in – Africa in the latter part of April and early May. The munitions loaded were said to be for Turkish military “practice and exercises”. It has been speculated they may have instead been used in Libya and Syria by Turkey.
The statement has Mthembu saying: “The sale and use of military weapons are guided by international protocol and also by South African regulations that military hardware is not to be sold to countries involved in conflicts. Countries we (South Africa) interact with in good faith should not do anything not agreed on”.
JSCD chair Cyril Xaba welcomed Mthembu’s input adding the committee shared his view that those who have been sold military hardware abide by the terms of the agreement.
The JSCD also welcomed progress as regards finalisation of amendments to national arms control regulations, specifically relating to end user certificates (EUCs).
“The amended regulations allow end users to agree to on-site verification of controlled items arranged through a diplomatic process. As per the committee’s request, details on requests for transfer of weapons or military components from one country to another will be made available,” the statement said without specifying a timeframe.