Department of Defence dismisses Armscor meltdown claims


The Department of Defence has dismissed claims that the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) was melting down. It said the new Minister of Defence and Military Veterans will provide clarity on the situation at the parastatal soon, Eyewitness News radio service has reported.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to intervene in the so-called meltdown at Armscor. But the department’s spokesperson, Siphiwe Dlamini, said the party’s description was incorrect. “Armscor is functioning…the place has not been shut down.” Dlamini says the minister had yet to meet Armscor, but would provide clarity on the issue once a meeting was arranged.

Apparent confusion arose on uly 11 when then-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu, wrote to Lieutenant General (Retd) Moriti “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.” Sisulu was posted to another department in a Cabinet reshuffle the next day.

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 paper, 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 month 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.