Armscor is keeping its card close to the chest as far as the appointment of a permanent chief executive is concerned.
Sipho Mkwanazi’s more than four year tenure as acting chief executive will, if all goes according to plan, end when the current financial year finishes on March 31.
Last year the state’s defence and security procurement agency issued a tender seeking a service provider to find suitable candidates for the position of chief executive. At the time Fidel Hadebe, Armscor Senior Manager: Corporate Communication, said the service provider would identify suitable candidates.
This week he said it was “public knowledge” that finding a chief executive officer for Armscor was underway.
“The Constitutional requirement for privacy and dignity does not allow names of applicants to be made public. This also applies to whether the acting chief executive has applied or not,” he said, adding the outcome of the process would be communicated publicly once it was completed.
“It is Armscor’s intention to conclude this matter by the end of the current financial year,” Hadebe said.
Mkwanazi has been acting chief executive since November 2009 following the dismissal of Sipho Thomo by the then Armscor board of directors under the chairmanship of Popo Molefe.
Thomo had previously “survived” a misconduct enquiry, according to media reports early in 2010 but was finally sacked in the wake of his statement to Parliament on the alleged cost escalation of the A400M aircraft South Africa had planned to acquire. He said the cost of the eight heavy lift aircraft had risen to an “estimated” R47 billion, something which has never been conclusively proven. This in turn led to then Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu cancelling the contract with Airbus Military and leaving the SA Air Force with its ageing fleet of C-130BZs as the military’s only major airlifters.
In his foreword to the latest available Armscor annual report, Mkwanazi indicated the procurement agency would look back on the financial year “with pride notwithstanding the challenges and turbulences” it faced. These included legal challenges to the dismissal of former board chairman, retired lieutenant general Mojo Motau, and his deputy, Refiloe Mokoena, that unsuccessfully went as far as the Constitutional Court.
The new Armscor board, announced in May last year by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is headed by retired SA Navy chief, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu with former South African ambassador to France and UNESCO, Thuthukile Skweyiya, as his deputy. Other board members are Bethuel Mobu, Dr Moses Khanyile, Advocate Virginia de la Hunt, Raymond Vokwana, Advocate Sesi Baloyi and Ndumiso Tybilika.
The remaining two board positions are filled by Mkwanazi and chief financial officer Gerhard Grobler.