SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief, General Solly Shoke, wants its partners in the local defence industry to work together in a concerted effort to pull out of the economic meltdown.
This is how the Department of Defence (DoD) website reported on what it termed “a stakeholder engagement breakfast” where Shoke and senor SANDF personnel met with local defence industry representatives.
He is reported as telling industry the budget constraints and cuts the defence force has to live with will “ultimately” affect its partners, one of which is the local defence industry.
We view you as partners in the execution of our mandate in defending the territorial integrity of the Republic of South Africa. We need to restrategise how we conduct business and grow beyond our borders.” he said.
Shoke’s words come on the heels of comments regarding the financial situation at State-owned defence and technology conglomerate, Denel. A Denel subsidiary, Denel Land Systems (DLS, is building 242 Badger infantry combat vehicles for the SA Army to replace its existing and ageing fleet of Ratels.
He told this publication: “Denel is a serious concern to the SANDF. Denel is a strategic partner in the defence of the Republic of South Africa. If anything goes wrong with Denel we are in trouble”.
Denel, according to the DoD, is currently its biggest supplier of equipment with DLS providing the bulk of it. Mortars, auxiliary equipment for portable mine detection equipment, gyroscopic systems for artillery, G6 self-propelled howitzer upgrades and the 242 Badger infantry combat vehicles are all on order from the Centurion-headquartered state-owned enterprise, now operating under as new board and with an acting chief executive at the helm. DLS is also supplying fiveT5 artillery pieces to the landward force of the SANDF.
The Badger programme has been delayed by at least 18 months with the May 2019 delivery date of the first batch of vehicles not going to happen.
Shoke is reported as telling local defence industry stakeholder the SANDF assisted in marketing efforts for it both continentally and internationally. He said military leaders were “inclined” to listen to senior SANDF personnel and seek their opinions as end users of defence capabilities.