NCACC issues contracting permits worth R19.5bn in 2008


The latest Annual Report of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) shows that the state organ that regulates defence imports and exports approved contracting permits worth R19.586 billion in the 2008 calendar year.

The report, released yesterday, shows the NCACC last year 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.

Appendix B of the report provides a summary of export permits per country, breaking down exports into five categories.

Category A weapons are “Sensitive, Major Significant Equipment (SMSE) which comprises of conventional implements of war that could cause heavy personnel casualties and/or damage and destruction to material, structures, objects and facilities. Examples are tanks, combat aircraft, large calibre artillery systems, attack helicopters, warships and armoured fighting vehicles.”

Category B arms are “Sensitive Significant Equipment (SSE) that comprises all types of hand-held or hand-carried assault weapons of the calibre smaller than 12.7mm. All assault rifles, machine guns, pistols and related small arms and ammunition are included in this category.”

Category C covers “Non-Sensitive Equipment (NSE) which comprises all support equipment usually employed in direct support of combat operations that have no inherent capability to kill or destruct, although, if employed in conjunction with SMSE, they could have multiple effect. Examples are radars, meteorological stations, radio equipment, support vehicles and aircraft and recovery equipment.”

Category D comprises “Non-Lethal Equipment (NLE) which is limited to purposely designated de-mining and mine clearing and mine detecting equipment, all non-lethal pyrotechnical and riot control products and related equipment. Examples are mine detectors, signal flares, baton rounds and teargas.”

Category E ring-fences “Not-For-Sale (NFS) items … that are not allowed to be sold, such as anti-personnel landmines.”

The Institute for Security Studies in a submission to Parliament last year called the categories “broad and imprecise in nature”, making it ‘almost impossible for the public to ascertain the types and amount of specific arms that have been exported.”

The ISS said this was “in contrast to the annual reports that the NCACC submits to the publicly available United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (UNRCA).”

This includes R64 million in “Category A” exports to Sudan. It is not clear whether this was to the Government of Sudan or to the hybrid UN/African Union peace mission, known as UNAMID, there. The UNRCA shows that SA exported mine protected ambush protected (MRAP) armoured personnel carriers to Sudan in 2007, but for UNAMID.

Perhaps surprisingly, SA`s biggest client in 2008 was the United States, which purchases “Category A” equipment worth R1.880 billion – likely MRAPs, “Category C” munitions worth R55.524 million and “Category D” materiel worth R748.9 million.

Exports to Britain totalled R456.669 million, to the United Arab Emirates R185.240 million and Thailand R197.523 million. Other big-league customers were Algeria (R138.355 million), Canada (R155 million), Colombia (R248.318 million), Ghana (R104.977 million), India (R232.282 million), and Malaysia (R138.537 million).

There were no disclosed exports to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria or Zimbabwe in 2008 and sales to Venezuela were valued at R24.246 million. The countries were at the heart of “dodgy arms deal” allegations levelled at the NCACC by Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier.  


Pic: A snapshot of the 2008 AAD trade show in Cape Town in Septembr last year.