Booi to ask for “guidance” on Maynier


The chairman of the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is to ask the Speaker of Parliament for “political and legal guidance” regarding steps against a Democratic Alliance MP accused of publishing classified information on arms exports.

Mnyamezeli “Nyami” Booi says he is seeking legal advice and is to request the Speaker, Max Sisulu, to make a determination on the legality of DA shadow defence minister David Maynier’s actions.

The Cape Times reports Maynier yesterday faced angry ANC colleagues in a specially-called committee meeting. The ruling party MPs accused him of tarnishing South Africa‘s image and breaching the National Conventional Arms Control Act.

Maynier held a press conference on August 2 where he disclosed information which indicated that South Africa was selling or marketing weapons to countries such as Libya, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

Sisulu is brother to defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu and is a former CE of the state arsenal, Denel.  

At the meeting, ANC MP Stella Ndabeni demanded that Maynier be removed from the portfolio committee. She said unless Maynier had obtained the information from the NCACC itself, it must have been acquired through illegal means.
“How he got the information was illegal. I call for the withdrawal of the honourable member from this committee,” she said according to the newspaper and SA Broadcasting Corporation footage.

The ANC’s parliamentary caucus on Monday called for Maynier to be investigated, saying he may be liable for criminal prosecution.

In terms of the National Conventional Arms Control Act, the disclosure of classified documents relating to the business of the NCACC, unless properly authorised, is an offence that carries a fine, a jail sentence of up to 20 years, or both.

Business Day in its report said ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga insisted that Maynier had broken the law by disclosing the business of the NCACC. “On Monday, caucus called on Parliament to investigate the legality of Maynier`s action,” the paper quoted Motshekga`s office as saying.

“Notwithstanding the authenticity or lack thereof of the report`s contents, we believe that by making public information detailing various arms deals between our country and other states cannot be in the best interest of the country`s national security.”

Motshekga and Booi said that in the past South Africans had fallen prey to “information pedlars” and this could not be allowed to happen again.

Business Day adds that most ANC MPs said that Maynier had also broken protocol in going public before placing the information before the committee.

Booi said he had sought legal advice on Maynier’s actions but could not immediately determine whether Maynier was covered by parliamentary privilege or not.

He asked Maynier if he was willing to disclose the source of his information, but Maynier, flanked by DA deputy chief whip Mike Ellis, refused to do so.

“I will not reveal the source of my information. I believe that it should be the NCACC in the dock and not me,” he said. “…I`m not prepared to discuss the sources of my information or anything related to the sources of my information.”

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald sided with Maynier, reminding MPs “there is also legislation on the protecting of whistleblowers in this country.”

Asked if the information he provided was true and whether it could be verified, Maynier said NCACC chairman and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe had not disputed the information.

Radebe conceded that the sale of ammunition to Zimbabwe was awaiting authorisation and said the NCACC had approved the sale of armoured personnel carriers to Libya. However, he disputed any sales to Iran and North Korea, which are prohibited by UN sanctions.

Booi says his committee has asked for a meeting with Radebe and the NCACC. A date must still be set.

Pic: David Maynier picturted last month at a derelict section of the SA-Zimbabwe borderline.