DA decry planned closed PCOD NCACC meeting

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) is decrying Wednesday’s closed session of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCODMV). Facing the committee will be the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) that the DA has accused of dereliction of duty.

DA defence shadow minister David Maynier says the party believes that the decision to allow “Jeff Radebe, Chairperson of the NCACC, together with officials from the Directorate of Conventional Arms Control, to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans in secret is a deliberate attempt to cover up the truth about dodgy arms deals with some of the most repressive regimes in the world.”

The announcement was made in Parliamentary papers on Friday.

Maynier says the “public have a right to know how it was that we sold, attempted to sell or demonstrated and exhibited conventional arms in states such as Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea and Zimbabwe, despite legislation aimed at ensuring that we do not trade in conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression and terrorism.”

The constitution requires that the public, including the media, may not be excluded from a sitting of a parliamentary committee unless it is justifiable and reasonable to do so in an open and democratic society, the MP adds.

The NCACC should therefore be held to account in an open and transparent meeting by members of the portfolio committee, he avers.

He is also concerned that the closed meeting will be used to suppress publication of the NCACC`s 2008/2009 annual report.

“Legislation requires that the annual report – which must specify the name, type of weapons, quantity of weapons and the value of the weapons exported to each state – be released to the public.

“The question must be asked: why is it necessary to discuss a report, which contains information that legislation requires to be in the public domain, in a closed meeting of the Portfolio Committee.”

Maynier says he wants to know from PCODMV chairman Mnyamezeli Booi who decided the portfolio committee meeting should be a closed and why. He notes the Cape Times has reported Booi as saying that the decision was taken in consultation with the committee, an assertion he rejects. “That`s nonsense,” he told defenceWeb this morning.   



Pic: Justice minister and NCACC chairman Jeff Radebe