US defence services provider and equipment manufacturer Dyncorp International and its partner OTT Technologies Mozambique have rolled out the first 16 of 115 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) for use by African Union peacekeepers in Mali.
OTT Technologies Mozambique is a subsidiary of South African defence equipment manufacturer OTT Technologies, which produces the M26 and M36 variants of the Puma mine-resistant armoured vehicle, several other APC models and military trucks.
The 16 Puma 36 4×4 vehicles were assembled in the southern city of Matola and driven to the port of Maputo for shipment to Mali two weeks ago.
Dyncorp International public relations officer Ashley Burke said they have been contracted by the US government to manufacture and transport the APCs to UN peacekeepers in Mali.
“Dyncorp International is working in Africa with suppliers in the region and manufacturers in Mozambique to manufacture vehicles for African troops in Mali. As part of a task order under the African Peacekeeping Programme (AFRICAP), the team is responsible for procuring and supervising the manufacture of and transportation for 115 armoured personnel carrier vehicles for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali [Minusma].
“We are pleased to be able to provide global solutions while supporting local economies, helping developing nations while deepening our relationship with the people of Africa. Note that the 16 vehicles are destined for the (UN) peace-keeping mission in Mali, not Somalia,” Burke said.
The vehicles are reportedly destined for the armies of seven unidentified West African countries contributing troops to Minusma.
Dyncorp International won a $173 million contract from the US Department of State, which funds the AFRICAP programme to support multinational peacekeeping efforts in Africa by providing new equipment and running pre-deployment training programmes for African soldiers seconded to peacekeeping missions. Most of the vehicle components supplied to the assembly plant in Mozambique are sourced from South Africa.
However, the entire shipment of 16 vehicles has been seized and impounded by the Mozambican government pending the outcome of investigations into allegations of tax evasion and deception by OTT Technologies Mozambique, according to Mozambican media reports.
However, OTT told defenceWeb that OTT has never been charged with any form of tax evasion or deception since no import taxes or duties are payable on vehicles and equipment that are being transported for re-export. OTT added that all items were imported through the proper channels into Mozambique with the necessary documentation.
The Maputo daily Noticias claimed that OTT did not obey customs procedures when importing components – instead of being inspected at the FRIGO customs terminal, they were taken directly to the OTT factory in the Matola neighbourhood of Tchumene. However, OTT told defenceWeb that the company has written permission to transport components from the border to the factory, pending an inspection of such materials within 30 days of import.
While OTT Technologies Mozambique has a permit to assemble vehicles, the company has no permit to manufacture or assemble military vehicles and has not made any efforts to inform the Mozambican government that it is now involved in military vehicle production, according to Mozambican media. However, OTT responded by saying at the time of the transaction, no permit for the assembly of military vehicles in Mozambique existed.
Apparently the Mozambican Tax Authority is now waiting for the verdicts of the national Public Prosecutor’s office and the customs tribunal to rule on the company’s alleged violations of the country’s import laws.
The investigation involves the departments of interior, defence, foreign affairs and the intelligence services.
OTT said issue revolves around the bypassing of FRIGO (for which OTT actually had written permission) and the lack of a “special licence” required for the manufacture of military type vehicles in Mozambique. “OTT is working closely with the relevant Mozambique officials to resolve the situation in the best interests of all parties involved,” the company said.