Armscor, by its own admission, has not progressed far with its stated intent of sweating assets to boost revenue.
A major component of the proposal was to make better use of properties, including the Alkantpan test range in the Northern Cape and multi-use vehicle test facility Gerotek, west of Pretoria.
In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, the State-owned company under the control of the Defence and Military Veterans Ministry indicated it is “still pursuing asset sweating as part of revenue generation”.
The tabling of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) annual report shortly before Parliament prorogued last month ahead of the 1 November local government elections should provide more than food for thought to Armscor management in this regard.
Under the tenure of previous chief executive Kevin Wakeford, no secret was made of plans to build, among others, a new headquarters building for the intelligence component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on the Gerotek site. This, Armscor Group Executive: Corporate Support, Advocate Ndodomzi Mvambo, said is “on hold due to financial constraints” adding “the idea” is “being pursued” with Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence.
Defence Intelligence (DI), housed in a Pretoria CBD office building and since mid-year under the command of Major General Thalita Mxakato, should move. This recommendation is part of the intelligence oversight committee’s annual report which states “the location of DI headquarters has been a serious challenge for the past few years” in a Parliament Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports document.
Other poor and non-performance areas noted by the JSCI for those tasked to provide intelligence for military as well as civilian application included a backlog in vetting showing the majority of senior DI management are not top secret cleared. Additionally, the JSCI sees “borrowing of posts among DI structures as a serious concern – destabilising the whole structure”.
As part of its asset sweating effort which first saw the light of day in 2017, Armscor asked for requests for proposals (RfPs) as regards construction of a boutique hotel and conference centre on property adjoining its Erasmusrand head office. Bidders were advised they did not meet specifications set out and there is no further progress.