Alleged 'crisis' in SA's arms control regime

6 August 2009

The ANC Parliamentary Caucus notes with deep concern statements by the Democratic Alliance alleging there is a "crisis" in the country's arms control regime.

In a report released to the media last week, DA MP David Maynier alleges that the South African government, through the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), was involved in "dodgy" arms deals with a number of countries and was responsible for "arming dictators all over the world".

Maynier clearly does not want the facts to get in the way of a good story. The authenticity and/or legitimacy of his alleged sources is highly dubious. It is high time that the DA backed up its conspiracy theories with hard facts.

Indeed, if one was to make public allegations that sought to impugn on the integrity of the government of the country, the least one should do is to back them up with concrete evidence – not conspiratorial concoctions.

By presenting the media with such a poorly researched and factually empty 'report', the DA has once again successfully sent the public on a wild goose chase and betrayed its Opposition mandate.

A simple application for information to the relevant agency would have provided the DA with an accurate account of the true state of arms deals in the country. However, the party elected to peddle fiction before making any attempt to have the information verified through appropriate channels.

In its statement, the DA alleges that our government is involved in "dodgy" deals with six countries with poor human rights record. According to the statement, applications for authorisation for the three of the six countries, Iran, Syria and Zimbabwe, are pending, while the rest have been approved.

The applications relating to the three countries remain applications – not approvals or authorisations – and it boggles the mind why the party would refer to legitimate processes as "dodgy deals".

The NCACC has a mandate to scrutinise applications it receives and make appropriate decision in terms of the Act. It is difficult to understand how this could be labelled dodgy.

Contrary to the DA's disinformation, there is no arms embargo imposed against either Zimbabwe or Syria by the United Nations Security Council. Similarly, there is no arms embargo in force against Venezuela and Libya, as alleged.

It is correct that sanctions on arms have been imposed against Venezuela, but that was unilaterally done by the US, not South Africa or the UNSC. Both Venezuela and Libya are emerging as strong trading partners in arms.

Throughout its report, the DA makes reference to the verdicts passed on these countries by "Freedom House". The Freedom House is a United States-based organisation that receives most of its funding from that country's government. Caucus wishes to stress that while we respect the good work done by that institution, our government cannot be bound by the decisions it makes or verdicts it passes.

Issued by
The Office of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party
Parliament of the Republic of SA

Moloto Mothapo: 082 370 6930