Private Member’s Bill will force Minister to provide defence acquisition information


Frustration with the Department of Defence and Military Veterans’ continuing failure to provide information on arms acquisition and other SA National Defence Force (SANDF) projects has reached the stage where a Democratic Alliance (DA) MP has submitted a Private Member’s Bill.

The Defence Amendment Bill has been published in the Government Gazette and is open for public comment until September 22.

Shadow defence and military veterans Minister David Maynier hopes the bill will gain sufficient support to ensure Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in future tables quarterly reports on all armament acquisition programmes in Parliament and also tables ad hoc reports on these where there are cost over-runs of more than 15% and schedule slips over more than six months.

He has repeatedly asked for information on SANDF acquisition projects only to be told “all information requested in terms of the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP) is considered confidential. Further, all project financial information is also considered confidential and not open to the public domain”.

In support of his Bill Maynier said the Department of Defence’s own 1996 White Paper on National Defence requires it to publish an annual acquisition master plan and to publish a medium to long term Defence Requirements statement to guide long term technology and industrial planning.

He also point out answers have in the past been given in Parliament on defence acquisition programmes. In this regard he gives the example of an answer given to Advocate Hendrik Schmidt in February 2007. This gave details of 38 projects with a value of over R1 million.

Interestingly, it includes Project Hoefyster, the new infantry fighting vehicle for the SA Army now just awaiting final contract documentation from Armscor as well as Project Drummer, the upgrade of the Oryx helicopter. This was apparently one of the agenda items on last month’s hastily cancelled/postponed Portfolio committee of Defence and Military Veterans meeting.

Maynier said he had not yet been informed of a new date or venue for the committee to meet.