South Africa donated unspecified military communications equipment to Madagascar in 2008, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said in a written response to a parliamentary question. Radebe revealed the nature of the donation in vague terms after being asked by the Democratic Alliance about the export to the politically unstable Indian Ocean island.
Radebe’s reply said the donation was approved by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) in October 2008, before the current round of instability that started last January and ended a period of constitutional democracy that started in 2002. The same type of equipment was also donated to other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, Radebe added in his capacity as NCACC chair. Despite being asked to do so, he did not further describe the equipment or put a value to it.
DA defence spokesman David Maynier says questions still remain over a second dispatch of weapons to Madagascar approved in 2009, the South African Press Association reported. He contends that a R2.6 million weapons shipment approved last year may have fallen foul of the NCACC legislation that obliges the committee to take into account human rights violations and an escalation of conflict when it approves arms transactions.
In March last year, then president Marc Ravalomanana resigned after former Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina led weeks of street protests against him. SADC suspended Madagascar after the ousting of Ravalomanana, who is in exile in South Africa.
Radebe in a separate answer revealed that an undisclosed SA manufacturer delivered five bullet proof vests and 10 ceramic plate samples to Guinea, a troubled West African country in 2008 “free of charge for test purposes.” The permit was approved by the NCACC and issued for export in September 2008, Radebe said. “In Approving exports for conventional arms, the NCACC is guided by the provisions of the National Conventional Arms Control Act as well as guiding principles and criteria as contemplated in the Act.”