Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford was apparently working out a six month resignation period that was cut short last Friday (February 15) when the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency announced his immediate departure.
In January an Armscor statement indicated Wakeford was granted special leave to prepare evidence for submission to the Zondo Commission. He was named by Angelo Agrizzi, former chief operating officer of the Bosasa Group (now named African Global Operations), as having benefitted from the Krugersdorp headquartered facilities management group. This was refuted by Armscor which said it had not done any work and has no known contracts with the Bosasa Group with no indication that the chief executive was working an extended notice period ahead of leaving.
The Armscor statement making public the resignation of its chief executive, says Wakeford tendered his resignation on 30 October 2018. It also states discussions with Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and acting Armscor chair Ambassador Thuthukile Skweyiya led to a decision that Wakeford would step down and “make himself available for Armscor matters during the remainder of his notice period ending April 30, 2019”. Skweyiya has been acting in the position since the resignation of retired vice admiral Johannes Mudimu in October last year due to ill-health and no successor has yet been announced.
According to Friday’s Armscor statement, Wakeford thanked Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the leadership of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the South African defence industry, Armscor staff and its executive committee for support during “very difficult times”. In part the statement notes “it was agreed the chief executive will step down and make himself available to Armscor during the remainder of his notice period ending April 30, 2019”.
This is not how issues of this nature should be handled, was the response of Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kobus Marais, the party’s shadow defence and military veterans minister.
“The way the Department of Defence and the Minister have dealt with Wakeford gives the impression they are still buddy-buddy. This is unacceptable. His position is compromised and his resignation should not have been handled with kid gloves.
“He should have been released from his duties immediately, especially as it was reported he will be going to the defence industry in the private sector,” he said.
Marais is adamant Armscor needs a fresh start under “a new and uncompromised chief executive”. He told defenceWeb he will submit written questions to the Minister “to get the reasons why Wakeford seems to get preferential treatment, even if only because of perceptions created”.
As far as allegations of involvement in state capture via apparent dealings with the Bosasa Group the Armscor statement further quotes Wakeford as saying: “It is my intention to clear my name but I believe it is unfair to lead the organisation while these allegations remain unresolved in the public domain”.