Who is in charge at Armscor?


Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is going to have to clarify who is in charge at the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor). That’s the view of opposition Democratic Alliance party defence spokesman David Maynier.

Apparent confusion arose earlier this month when then-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu, wrote to the General “Mojo” Motau, chair of Armscor: “Having applied my mind to the functioning and operations of the current Board of Armscor, I have decided to appoint Ms R Mokoena as Chairperson of the Armscor Board and Mr EL Borole as Deputy Chairperson of the Armscor Board with immediate effect.”

But Motau has reportedly refused to leave his position. It is not clear why the former minister fired Motau but one reason could be the controversial strategy designed to take Armscor into the 21st Century, Maynier said. The strategy, entitled Repositioning Armscor: Strategy through the 21st Century was reportedly rubbished by Armscor senior management as “a document that shows an abysmal lack of understanding of the business in general and the technicalities in particular”. Business Day newspaper reported last Tuesday that two senior Armscor officials had been suspended for reportedly criticising a board-composed strategy for the company as being “irrational” and a “recipe for disaster”.

The strategy was also at odds with the proposal to establish at “Defence Material Organisation” in the Defence Review. And the strategy was also apparently not supported by the defence department.

The paper added the action against Pierre Meiring and Kgathatso Thlakudi Meiring and Thlakudi followed the suspension of two other senior officials a few months ago and “represents the continued haemorrhaging of skills and experience from the company.”

Maynier added to this that Armscor chief executive Sipho Mkwanazi has been acting in the position since November 2009 following the suspension and later sacking of Sipho Thomo.
“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is the executive authority responsible for Armscor. She must now step in and deal with the meltdown at Armscor,” Maynier says. “The DA, therefore, calls on the Minister to make a public statement about the state of Armscor spelling out: whether … Motau, has been fired and when he will be leaving Armscor; whether Refiloe Mokoena has been appointed as the new chair of Armscor; when a Chief Executive Officer for Armscor will be permanently appointed; and how she intends to take Armscor forward in the light of the proposals in the Defence Review. We cannot afford to lose the defence acquisition expertise warehoused within Armscor.”

Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesman Mike Ramagopa did not respond to a call and SMS.