Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu.

Johannesburg - Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has filled the positions of Armscor chairman retired Lieutenant-General Mojo Motau and his deputy Refiloe Mokoena, despite a pending Constitutional Court decision on their fight against their dismissals.

The cabinet approved the appointments of retired Admiral Refiloe Mudimu and businesswoman Thuthukile Skweyiya as chairman and deputy respectively last week.

Umkhonto weSizwe veteran Mudimu retires as South African Navy chief tomorrow while Skweyiya is the wife of outgoing high commissioner to the UK and former social development minister Dr Zola Skweyiya.

Last month, the country’s highest court heard that Mapisa-Nqakula fired two senior Armscor executives after being put under political pressure to explain the parastatal’s failure to deliver equipment for SANDF troops deployed on the continent.

Motau, also an Umkhonto weSizwe veteran, and his deputy, Telkom’s group compliance officer Mokoena, told the Constitutional Court that their removal by Mapisa-Nqakula was a serious violation of their right to dignity.

According to Motau and Mokoena, Mapisa-Nqakula stated that their removal was not a legal matter but a “political matter” informed by her experience.

They said: “The evidence makes plain that the minister’s decision to terminate the services of the directors from the board was based on political reasons.”

Mapisa-Nqakula blamed Motau and Mokoena for the SANDF’s under expenditure of over R145 million for equipment Armscor failed to buy including camping equipment and a high-altitude parachute system worth R44.4m and R100.73m respectively which were to have been acquired between April 2011 and March next year.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s decision to fire Motau and Mokoena may prove costly should they succeed at court as they had a year left on their contracts.

According to Armscor’s 2012/13 annual report, Motau and Mokoena earned R444 502 and R314 509 respectively in the past financial year.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesman Joy Peter declined to comment on the matter, saying it was sub judice.

She said the minister would respect the Constitutional Court judgment.

Motau and Mokoena’s lawyer, Leslie Mkhabela, said he was surprised that Mapisa-Nqakula had filled his clients’ jobs.

“It’s a demonstration of disregard for court processes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the SA Army’s Project Hoefyster will cost nearly R15.5 billion, Mapisa-Nqakula revealed in a parliamentary reply to DA MP David Maynier.

Denel Land Systems was awarded the contract to deliver 238 infantry combat vehicles, which are expected to support the country’s peacekeeping missions and provide troops with protection, mobility and firepower.

Denel Land Systems has undertaken to deliver the first of the vehicles by October next year.

The department said Project Hoefyster, which is part of its defence acquisition programme, contained security sensitive and possibly classified information to be presented only in a closed session of Parliament’s joint standing committee on defence. - The Sunday Independent