Pretoria - The scourge of piracy and the unabated problem of human trafficking and organised crime remain a threat to peace and security in the world, says Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Officially launching the African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof on Wednesday, Mapisa-Nqakula said South Africa will continue to support regional efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
This would be done through deployment of resources to stop migration of piracy south “into our areas of maritime responsibility”, she said.
“As a continent and a region we share the world concerns regarding the scourge of piracy in the Horn of Africa, particularly around Somalia. We are grateful for the continued deployment by members of the international community to try and contain this scourge,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
She said SA would work closely with all nations involved in the fight against those who seek to make travel by sea unsafe.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the problem of extremism and acts of international terrorism also continued to pose a threat to the peaceful coexistence of nations.
“We are however encouraged by the fact that the world is making serious and fast advancement in information technologies responsive to both our human development and security needs,” she said.
She said the AAD took place in an international environment characterised by economic challenges affecting developed countries in particular.
According to Mapisa-Nqakula, the defence environment has not escaped the effects of the economic downturn as many countries strive to balance their defence requirements against other competing social and state priorities.
“It is a phenomenon that imposes challenges on us to think differently. On the other hand, pockets of political instability and unrest continue to present unique challenges in our efforts to build a better and safer continent and the world”, she said.
“The government is encouraged by the fact that the world is making serious and fast advancement in information technologies responsive to both our human development and security needs”.
The advance in technology further enhanced the push towards a true global village.
Equally, nano-technologies have brought about impressive developments in miniaturising control systems.
Mapisa-Nqakula said SA still faced serious challenges of dealing with inequalities created by the past, namely endemic poverty and economic marginalisation of the majority who happen to be black and Africans in particular.
“These inequalities which play themselves out from time to time, have placed on our government and all sectors of society the need to utilise all levels of our planning to address resultant development goals,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) had been engaged in peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations.
“The SANDF is also required to stand ready in fulfilment of our commitments to the African Standby Force arrangement, and the SADC Brigade. The combat readiness of these forces are of critical importance.
“Various contingents of our forces are presently deployed in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” she said.
The minister said the South African Army in particular traverses these landscapes on a daily basis.
“In the coming three financial years it is our plan to start the re-equipping of the army to cope with these challenges.
“Strides have been made, strides in equipping the country’s naval and airborne forces, and the country will be looking at re-equipping the ground forces.
l SA’s largest defence equipment manufacturer Denel and Russian Helicopters, a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters, have signed an agreement to create a helicopter servicing hub in Africa.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday at the AAD exhibition.
Denel Aviation, a division of Denel is now the only company in sub-Saharan Africa accredited to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for models produced by Russian Helicopters.