The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has again failed to table quarterly reports in Parliament.
David Maynier, the DA MP that shadows defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu, says the committee, chaired by justice minister Jeff Radebe, has not tabled reports for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2009.
“The fact is that the NCACC has become a serial violator of the very law it is supposed to enforce,” the shadow minister said.
The National Conventional Arms Control Committee Act 41 of 2002 requires that a quarterly report on “all conventional arms exports concluded during the preceding quarter” be tabled in Parliament.
Last August, shortly after his appointment as NCACC chair, Radebe made an undertaking to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans that his committee would meet all its statutory reporting requirements including tabling quarterly and annual reports in Parliament.
“But this has not happened,” say Maynier.
He adds that the “problem is not new”. The Auditor-General’s 2008/2009 annual report notes that: “Section 23 (1) (b) of the Act requires that the NCACC should submit quarterly reports to the Cabinet and a committee of Parliament. For the period under review no such quarterly reports were submitted. The Directorate of Conventional Arms Control (DCAC) only submitted an annual report to Parliament which contained the information for all quarters”.
This “provides more evidence of what appears to be an almost permanent administrative meltdown at the NCACC”, avers Maynier.
“The NCACC quarterly reports are imperative to keep track of possible ‘dodgy arms deals’ including most importantly whether the deal to sell thousands of sniper rifles to Syria and millions of rounds of ammunition to Zimbabwe was approved.
“The NCACC has become a ‘ball-and-chain’ for both government and business: it is bad for government because of the risk of dodgy arms deals falling through the cracks and it is bad for business because backlogs in evaluating permits stop business in its tracks.
“That is why the NCACC needs be re-engineered – fast,” Maynier adds.
The DA MP says his party will ask the chairman of the portfolio committee to schedule a meeting with Radebe, Chairperson to brief MPs on the import and export of conventional arms for the period between April 1 and December 31 and steps being taken to strengthen the administrative capacity of the NCACC.
The last annual report of the NCACC, that for 2008, released only in September last year, shows that the state organ approved contracting permits worth R19.586 billion that calendar year.
The report further showed the NCACC approved 370 contracting permits with 90 countries, down from 388 in 2004 but up from 326 in 2003, the last two years data are publicly available for.
The NCACC is by law required to publish an annual report for the calendar year by March 31 the next year, but has generally breached that obligation. The 2003/2004 figures were only tabled in Parliament in August 2005 and made public in 2007. The 2005, 2006 and 2007 reports were tabled in Parliament but are not yet public as they were classified by the NCACC. The 2008 report made it into the public domain despite being classified “confidential”.
The 2008 report adds that there are 111 companies registered with the NCACC and that it approved 45 marketing permits (52 in 2004, 47 in 2003). The NCACC also cleared 2895 export permits to 88 states, worth R5.898 (2237 in 2004, 1988 in 2003) as well as 1635 import permits from 61 nations, worth R6.361 billion (1466 in 2004,972 in 2003).
The NCACC issued 42 transit permits in 2003 and 23 in 2004. The 2008 report makes no mention of such permits.
The Department of Defence could not immediately respond while Radebe’s spokesman could not be reached.
Pic: A bright new export prospect: IVEMA’s Gila 4×4 MRAP.