Turmoil at Armscor?


Business Day newspaper reports this morning that two senior Armscor officials have been suspended for reportedly criticising a board-composed strategy for the company as being “irrational” and a “recipe for disaster”.

Responding to inquiries Armscor spokeswoman Daphney Chuma said: “The issue around the suspension of Armscor employees is an internal matter that will be dealt with in terms of the prescribed Armscor internal processes.”

The business daily said Pierre Meiring and Kgathatso Thlakudi have been suspended pending a disciplinary process. “It is understood that at issue is a critique of the new Armscor strategy, which claims that the board that signed off on it was inexperienced and failed completely to consult senior divisional staff who collectively have hundreds of years of experience in the defence industry and in acquisition,” the paper said. The critique reportedly says that, “in its entirety the (strategy) document shows an abysmal lack of understanding of the business in general and technicalities in particular. It is full of wild, unsubstantiated and illogical statements and totally impractical intentions. There appears to be a significant misinterpretation of the law, practical reality, objective logic, normal business sense and the original strategic intent which gives rise to the existence of Armscor.”

The paper adds the action against Meiring and Thlakudi follows the suspension of two other senior officials a few months ago and “represents the continued haemorrhaging of skills and experience from the company.”

Mystery also surrounds board chairman Lieutenant General (Retired) Moreti “Mojo” Motau who was reportedly dismissed early last month by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu and is contesting the dismissal. Motau was appointed in April last year and was previously special advisor to Sisulu and head of Defence Intelligence.

Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier told Business Day: “It is now clear that Armscor is in complete meltdown. The chairperson … has reportedly been fired but won’t leave. The CEO, Sipho Mkwanazi, is acting in the top position and is therefore a lame duck. The civil war between the board and senior management is ongoing. And many critical voices within Armscor have been purged. The new Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is going to have to deal with the meltdown at Armscor. A good place to start would be to show Motau the door and ensure he leaves Armscor.”

Mkwanazi has been acting CEO since November 2009.

Chuma could not be reached on Tuesday morning.