Top SANDF council informed and educated on Denel “mysteries”

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Three weeks after the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) urged Denel and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to ‘thrash out concerns’, it paid a visit to the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate  followed by the Military Command Council (MCC).

The JSCD visited Denel Aeronautics at its Kempton Park facilities on 29 March. Cyril Xaba, committee co-chair, encouraged Denel to continue as a catalyst in the defence industry, Denel reported him saying.

Days later on 3 and 4 April, the Military Command Council visited Denel facilities “to strengthen ties between Armscor, Denel and the SANDF,” the national defence force reported.

The “primary goal” of the visit was to “strengthen the relationships between the three parties to make sure Denel, with the help of Department of Defence (DoD) experts and Armscor’s advice, fulfils the needs and demands of the SANDF”.

SANDF Chief, General Rudzani Maphwanya, is reported as saying “practical exposure” to “difficulties” in equipment development “opened their eyes”.

“This places them [the MCC] “in a position to understand how better to approach these difficulties and successfully overcome them”.

The SANDF reported further SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha, made the point the MCC is “now informed and educated” and “Denel’s mysteries and misconceptions have been clarified following the two-day visit.”

“He [Mbatha] continued to say that as the MCC they now have a better understanding of what is happening and are more optimistic about overcoming the identified challenges”.

Last month the JSCD in a Parliamentary Communication Service statement said there was “uncertainty on the ability of Denel to deliver on its mandate as the entity implements its turnaround strategy”. Xaba noted a “seeming disjuncture” between SANDF expectations and Denel’s ability to maintain critical prime mission equipment (PME).

According to Denel it is a national security asset mandated to support the SANDF by providing and maintaining defence and military equipment. “From a geopolitical perspective, the SANDF is dependent on a significant level of effort and capability from Denel to support preparation and readiness for deployment internally (such as during July 2021 unrest and the KZN floods) and externally (such as in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique),” according to the company.

As examples Denel is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and/or maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) authority for numerous SANDF systems. These range from the Badger infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), Casspir armoured personnel carrier (APC), G6 Renoster self-propelled howitzer, G5 Luiperd towed howitzer, Bateleur multiple rocket launcher, Ingwe anti-armour missile, the ground-based air defence system (GBADS), Oryx medium transport helicopter, Rooivalk combat support helicopter, A-Darter air-to-air missile, Mokopa anti-tank missile, 35 mm dual purpose gun, Umkhonto IR surface-to-air missile to GI2 cannon (for Rooivalk and inshore patrol vessels).

Losing Denel capabilities means the SANDF will no longer have security of supply and be reliant on imports for equipment. It will also be unable to hedge against cost of foreign currency denominated purchases, capital and support; and lose the local defence components manufacturing sector, it warned.