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Durban - The board of state arms procurement agency Armscor is compromising the operations of SANDF soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by delaying the approval of key projects.
This means SANDF soldiers sent to war-ravaged DRC do not have the most basic of equipment such as proper tents and parachutes, according to papers filed in the North Gauteng High Court.
The board has also angered Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula who described their actions as “inhuman”.
The various project delays because of non-approval by the Armscor board are detailed in the court papers in the case between board chairman Maomela Motau and the department. In August, Mapisa-Nqakula fired Motau and his deputy Refiloe Mokoena, but they were reinstated by the court because of a technicality.
In his supporting affidavit, Antonie Visser, the Chief of Defence Materiel in the department, said one project was to replace the “absolute camping capability” for the soldiers, but this too was delayed for more than two years.
He said the delay in the approval of the project had a number of implications.
“The operational requirements from the SANDF could not be met as the project had already been delayed by 36 months due to the actions of the Armscor board of directors,” said Visser.
He said there was no cash flow for 36 months owing to to the project not being approved.
At an Armscor board meeting on August 14, Mapisa-Nqakula said that the biggest challenge was that “our soldiers do not have tents, our soldiers have no parachute equipment”.
“I mean there is just a whole list that was given to me. And on my part as minister I think it would be totally irresponsible if I don’t put pressure on Armscor to at least do something about it.
“I can’t have a situation where we deploy our soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a very problematic area without the necessary equipment they need. I think it is inhuman to do that,” she said.
DA defence spokesman David Maynier said “because of bungling at Armscor”, SANDF soldiers do not have the equipment they need to execute their mission in the DRC.
On Motau’s reinstatement, Maynier said “the minister does not believe he is fit to lead Armscor and I agree with her”.
He said the country cannot sit back and allow Armscor’s “bungling” to compromise the defence forces operational capability in the DRC.