Sale of sniper rifles to Turkmenistan questioned


South African arms sales, this time of 50 sniper rifles valued at more than R5 million, to “the repressive regime” in Turkmenistan has been questioned in Parliament.

The questioner is DA shadow defence and military veterans minister, David Maynier, who was responded to the second quarterly report of this year issued by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC).

According to legislation the NCACC, chaired by Jeff Radebe, now Minister in the Presidency with responsibility for planning, performance, monitoring, evaluation and administration, and previously Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, must “avoid transfers of conventional arms to governments that systemically violate or suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

In support of the NCACC having transgressed in the Turkmenistan sale, Maynier quoted from Human Rights Watch’s 2014 World Report.
“Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions and human rights defenders and other activists face constant threat of government reprisal. The government continues to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation,” the report states.

Maynier pointed out the latest known sniper rifle sale, which does not specify the rifle type or manufacturer, is not the first time the NCACC has transgressed in approving sales to “repressive” states.
“In 2010 the NCACC authorised the sales of about 100 sniper rifles and more than 50 000 rounds of ammunition to Libya,”

Other sales he finds questionable in the latest NCACC report include 13 armoured combat vehicles, valued at over R44 million, to Equatorial Guinea; and a pair of airborne observation systems, valued at more than R16,6 million, to the Russian Federation.

He will ask for a full-blown investigation of all three sales.

In total the South African defence industry sold R1,7 billion worth of product in the second quarter of this year. The revenue earned is markedly down from the R2,8 billion reported for the same period last year.

Biggest buyer of South African defence expertise was Sweden at R555 million, followed by Thailand on R501 million.

The trade in conventional arms and the rendering of foreign military assistance is regulated by the NCACC, which reports to Parliament, as well as the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC). South African arms traders are required to be registered with the DCAC. Permits are required for weapons development and manufacturing, marketing, contracting, exporting, importing or transferring of conventional arms. This includes; weapons, munitions, vessels designed for war, articles of war, and related systems, components, technologies, dual-use goods or services.