Defence Sector Charter adopted


This week saw the adoption of the Defence Sector Charter opening up the South African defence industry to small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) with the emphasis on black owned and operated businesses.

The charter, now in its seventh draft, was adopted during a stakeholder consultation session in Pretoria. Officials from the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as defence industry experts, suppliers, military veterans, trade unions and senior Armscor personnel were present to hear charter steering committee chairman, Trevor Mketi of the DoDMV, say the charter “will no doubt assist in accelerating transformation in the defence industry”.

Advocate Vuyisa Ramphele, General Manager: Corporate Compliance at Armscor and steering committee deputy chair, encouraged all stakeholders – “youth, women and military veterans included” – to provide more input for the charter before promulgation.

Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford told the session development of the defence charter had been marked by extensive and robust consultation.
“There is an equivalent commitment by all to ensure the defence industry is a leading sector in developing cutting edge technology, as well as in terms of inclusive economic participation.”

He also urged stakeholders to continue working together as “our economy will not grow exponentially without collaborative efforts aimed at fighting unemployment, inequality and poverty”.

The next step is for the adopted charter to be presented to the National Defence Industry Council (NDIC), chaired by Dr Sam Gulube, Secretary for Defence. After this Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will send it to Trade and industry Minister, Rob Davies. It will then again be published for public comment and input for a 60 day period before it is gazetted in terms of section nine of the Broad Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act of 2013 as the Defence Sector Code.

Trade union Solidarity said last year it was ready to go to court on the exclusion of former SA Defence Force (SADF) veterans and pensions from the charter. This was because of a clause exempting former SADF soldiers from involvement in the SMMEs the charter seeks to empower.

Item 4.34 of draft seven reads: “Military veterans’ means any black South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the non-statutory military organisations involved in South Africa’s liberation war from 1960 to 1994; became a member of the news SA National Defence Force after 1994 and completed his or her military training and no longer performs military service and has not been dishonourably discharged from that military organisation or force”.

Solidarity deputy chief executive Johan Kruger said: “There can be no grounds for the exclusion of military veterans or pensioners that fought on the side of the former SADF. Without them and the efforts of those before 1994 there would have been no real defence industry in South Africa”.

He added that Solidarity had “no problem” with black owners of businesses, appropriate black representation in senior and middle management and skills development but it opposes “the exclusive and apparently punishing and retaliatory nature of the proposed charter”.

A person close to military veterans’ organisations who did not want to be named pointed out the definition of military veterans in the proposed charter was in violation of that in legislation.

There was, at the time of publication, no indication of when the charter would serve before the NDIC or when it would go to Minister Davies’ office.