Attempts to bring South Africa’s defence industry in line with other sectors of economic activity as far as broad-based black empowerment is concerned have been attempted since 2007 and it appears there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at the end of March signed off the final charter that was approved by the overall defence sector after no less than seven drafts and the document was duly despatched to Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies. This is the route that has to be followed for all sector charters as set out in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act.
In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, the Department of Trade and Industry said: “The sector code is still being analysed for compliance,” adding ministerial approval was expected “in the next few weeks”.
The National Defence Industry Council (NDIC) was last year told by Simphiwe Hamilton, executive director of AMD (SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association) that attempts to draft a transformation charter for the defence industry in 2007 did not materialise due to insufficient support.
He went on to say the lessons learnt from the first transformation charter attempt were taken into account and all stakeholders were consulted throughout the process of its development the second time around. One of the challenges identified was the exclusion of military veterans specified as “former liberation fighters” in one draft.
This, along with the apparent incorrect use of the definition of a military veteran, raised the ire of trade union Solidarity and the SA Legion of Military Veterans. Both indicated they will use the time allocated for public comment and input once the draft charter has been approved by Minister Rob Davies to ensure access for all military veterans to the defence industry in South Africa.
The offending item in 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 new 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”.