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Pretoria - Weaponry acquired through the 1999 arms deal was vital in rejuvenating the SA Air Force, Deputy Chief of the SAAF, Maj-Gen Gerald Malinga said on Wednesday.
He was giving evidence to the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in the arms deal.
In an affirmed statement to the commission, he said that even though there was no imminent threat, South Africa needed the arms.
“The absence of a clearly defined military threat does not mean that the SA National Defence Force had no requirements of rejuvenation,” Malinga said in the statement.
“Threats usually appear unexpectedly and do not always allow for long lead times to acquire combat systems which include the equipment and competent operators.”
Earlier, Malinga told the commission that the SA Air Force performed its duties solely in the interests of the nation.
He was being led in submitting evidence before the inquiry by evidence leader Matshego Ramagaga.
Malinga said the armed forces were not swayed by party politics.
“We serve only for national interests, not for partisan politics or other interests. Contained in the code of conduct for members of the SA National Defence Force is a line that says: 'I will not harm or advance the interests of any political party.'“
Ramagaga asked whether that independence extended to the military's force designs.
“When you say the defence force serves solely in the national interests, would that also apply in execution of the mandate relating to the development of force designs?” Ramagaga asked.
Malinga responded: “It is my understanding and my belief that every bit of business that we do on a daily basis has nothing to do with any other thing than the mandate of the SANDF in defence of national interests.”
The inquiry resumes on Friday.