The immense amount of good work performed by soldiers and others in national defence force uniforms in 2020 pales into insignificance when stacked up against losses, including a reported R4 billion to corruption in December.
The apparent corruption, reported in Johannesburg daily The Star, involves Defence Intelligence (DI) and is based on a leaked internal investigation report by the Department of Defence (DoD). The report mentions, but does not carry any detail, of “gross corruption” in the acquisition of special defence equipment as well as in upgrading of defence facilities by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DWPI) and “corrupt persons” connected to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
There has, at the time of publishing, been no response to the report by the Defence Ministry, the DoD or the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
The silence from officialdom implicated is, in all probability, the reason for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) pouncing on it and asking for an “urgent sitting” of two Parliamentary oversight committees. Shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais wants the joint standing committees on defence and intelligence to call Mapisa-Nqakula to account for “a string of egregious corruptions levelled against her department”.
According to The Star, DI funds were “looted” in 2018 with “a series of corrupt procurement deals including a suspicious cybersecurity training tender awarded to a company by the name of ‘Sabre Technologies’”.
“The company (Sabre) was paid R22 588 670 in advance without following due process and proper approval. It is believed the Head of Defence Intelligence approved the tender on 26 October 2018, a month before the tender went through the budget and procurement processes.
“The investigative report relating to the corruption in Defence Intelligence was leaked to the Star Newspaper, and assumed to be classified, was never discussed in the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence at Parliament. This Committee is solely responsible for the oversight of this Department and any procurement of services it may undertake,” Marais said in the statement where he called for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s minister of defence and military veterans to “please explain”.
Marais added she “must also account for a series of departmental blunders” during 2020.
These include Mapisa-Nqakula’s “initial support” for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) board of inquiry (BOI) into the death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa during the COVID-19 lockdown; the “complete flouting” of legislation and regulations when she and a ruling party delegation flew to Zimbabwe on a SA Air Force (SAAF) bizjet in September and the “waste of at least R215 million on the seemingly illegal importation of an unregistered COVID-19 treatment drug Interferon from Cuba”.
“It’s high time Minister Mapisa-Nqakula accounts for corruption allegations levelled against her department over the year and explain the billions wasted under her watch while South Africa’s defence and intelligence capabilities continue to suffer,” Marais said.