National Conventional Arms Control Bill: deliberations; Proposed Armscor Bill: briefing

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Defence and Military Veterans

19 February 2002
Chairperson: Ms Thandi Modise (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered the latest draft of the National Conventional Arms Control Bill. The Bill was redrafted in 2001 by a sub-committee, constituted of Members, outside experts and state law advisers. Members were in agreement with the Bill, except for four additional amendments proposed.

The proposed Armscor Bill will regularise Armscor as the procurement agent for the Department of Defence. The Department hopes to finalise the Bill by September 2002, after public hearings in August.

Meeting report

National Conventional Arms Control Bill
Ms Modise noted that a Committee working group had become a sub-committee that incorporated outside experts and the state law advisers who had worked during the Christmas recess. They have now submitted their recommendations in the Bill marked No 2. Mr Laurie Nathan (Centre for Conflict Resolution) talked the Committee through the new NCACC bill noting that additions have been underlined whilst deletions have been scored through.

The major changes are to Clause 23 of the Bill.

The initial Clause 23(1) declared:
“No person may disclose any information in relation to the acquisition, supply, marketing, importation, exportation, design, trade, development, manufacture, production, maintenance, repair of or research in connection with conventional arms, where such disclosure would be detrimental to the national interest or security of the Republic or to the commercial interests of the manufacturer, or otherwise, without the written authority of a competent authority.�

In August 2001 the Bill was resubmitted to Parliament with the Clause unchanged except for the inclusion of the word 'brokering'.

The drafting sub-committee has turned Clause 23 (1) and (2) on its head. It now reads as follows:
1. The Committee [referring to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee] must:

a) ensure compliance with the annual reporting requirements of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and present to Parliament a copy of South Africa's annual report to the United Nations;

b) make quarterly reports to the Cabinet and a committee of Parliament determined by Parliament on all conventional arms exports concluded during the preceding quarter;

c) make quarterly reports to the Parliamentary committee contemplated in paragraph (b) on all pending export applications which the Committee is likely to approve, and consider any recommendations by the Parliamentary committee that a permit ought to be denied in a particular application on the grounds that the export would be inconsistent with section 15; and

d) at the end of the first quarter of each year, present to Parliament and release to the public an annual report on all conventional arms exports approved during the preceding calendar year.

2 a) Subject to paragraph (b), the reports referred to in subsection (1)(b)(c) and (d) must contain such information as may be prescribed and must set out the names of the importing states and the type, quantity and value of all the conventional arms in question.

b) Information concerning the technical specifications of conventional arms may be omitted from a report in order to protect military and commercial secrets.

3. No person may disclose any confidential information concerning the business of the Committee except with the permission of a competent authority or as required in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No 2 of 2000). “

Mr Mashimbye (ANC) asked what the meaning is of the word "entity" in Clause 9 (a) on page 6? Could this be applied to supplies of armaments to rebel groupings?

Mr Nathan replied that it was intended to cover the exports of components to defence industry companies, but agreed that the term should be defined in the table of definitions.

Mr Jonkielsohn (DP) made several suggestions, for instance, Clause 13 (2) on the improvement of English grammar that was accepted by the Committee, and the tightening of Clause 15 (e) to stipulate "military" conflicts.

Following discussion regarding Clause 15 (g) and a proposed addition "and the objective of the least diversion of human and economic resources for armaments," it was agreed that this implied an overbearing "big brother" mentality. Therefore, the clause would be amended to consider socio-economic circumstances and reworded in line with OAU resolutions.

Mr Nathan noted that Clause 23 (1) has been completely rewritten. Instead of the previous prohibition on disclosure of information relating to the armaments industry, the emphasis is now placed on parliamentary oversight. There was some discussion on the capacity of the Committee to oversee quarterly reports required by 23 (1) (c), but it was agreed that this should not detract from their determination to establish a parliamentary role of watchdog.

Mr Schmidt (DP) noted that veto authority was not being proposed, but rather a power of recommendation.

Ms Modise noted that applications and reports must comply with Clause 15; guiding principles and criteria.

Mr Gogotsha (ANC) queried whether the presence of NGOs and the media at hearings might jeopardise export prospects.

Mr Kota (ANC) queried what security clearances might be required to consider such applications.Â

Ms Modise suggested that they think about the implications of 23(1) (c) and consider rethinking Clause 15 (g).

Mr Hoon (Law Adviser) noted that the penalties for contravention of the NCACC Bill have been substantially increased in terms of Clause 24.

Ms Modise asked whether all Members were in agreement with the Bill subject to the rewriting of the four amendments proposed?

All Members were in agreement.

Mr Schmidt asked what the status is of the request to the Minister for past NCACC reports?

Ms Modise undertook to telephone the Minister. The public hearings had confirmed the concern about the need for controls and centralisation of arms control. This Committee was faced with a choice of either scrapping the bill or amending it, on the assumption of steps to centralise controls over exports of armaments.

Proposed Armscor Bill
Mr Ntumsi (Department of Defence) provided a review of Armscor's history since World War Two and the apartheid era, and a preview of an intended new act to be introduced this year. Following the situation with Denel in 1992, it is necessary to regularise Armscor as the procurement agency of the Department of Defence. This would also include other functions such as the industrial participation programme and management of test ranges such as Alkantpan. After public hearings, anticipated in August 2002, the intention is to finalise the Bill by September 2002, and a new Armscor Act will take effect from 1 April 2003.

Ms Modise commended Mr Ntumsi, but warned that the Committee would not want a repeat of the NCACC Bill and arms deal fiasco and that the Bill must be carefully and expertly crafted.

Mr Mashimbye queried whether the new legislation would be merely cosmetic, given the past legacies of Armscor under the apartheid era. Was Armscor simply being adapted rather its purpose being reconsidered? The Committee agreed that the present act is outdated, and that a new controlling Armscor Act is long overdue.

Consideration of the Defence Act was deferred until 26 February 2002.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1



Advisory committee on union defence force equipment requirements
1949- 1966
Defence Resources Board
1951- 1964
Defence Production Office


 Munitions Production Board, Act no 87 of 1964
1968- 1977

Armaments Board of South Africa, Act no 63 of 1968
subsidiaries: Armaments Development and Production Corporation of South Africa Ltd, Act no 57 of 1968

1977- 1992
         subsidiaries: Armaments Corporation of South Africa Limited
divisions: DENEL (Pty) Ltd, Act no 46 of 1992
facilities: ARMSCOR, Act no 57 of 1968

Appendix 2




To meet the armaments requirements of the Republic, including armaments required for export


· To take over and expand any undertaking of the Armaments Board for the manufacture of armaments.

· To promote or assist in the promotion of companies.

· To lend or advance money to a person or company.

· To provide or underwrite or otherwise to assist in the subscription of capital for such company.

· To acquire an interest in any company.

· To obtain or establish facilities.

· To investigate or research the manufacture, maintenance, testing, inspection or development of armaments.

· To promote and co-ordinate the development, manufacture, standardization, maintenance, acquisition or supply of armaments.

· To collaborate with, assist, render services to, or utilize the services of, any person, body or institution or any Department of State.

· To acquire, modify, test, inspect, lease, dispose of, lend or let armaments.

· To enter into contracts for the manufacture, modification, maintenance, testing or inspection of armaments.

· On its own account or as a representative of another person:

- To develop, manufacture, service, repair and maintain armament.
- To buy, sell, import or export and, to promote the sale of, armaments.
- To export armaments.

· To exercise control over Armaments with respect to:

- Development.
- Manufacture.
- Acquisition.
- Supply.
- Export.
- Marketing.

· To enter into contracts with persons in the Republic or elsewhere for the supply or rendering of armaments and/or services.

· To advise the Minister on any matter relating to armaments.

· To stockpile strategic raw materials, materials and components for the manufacture of armaments.

· To collaborate with any educational, scientific or other body or institution in connection with training of persons for professional or technical services.



To meet as effectively, efficiently and economically as possible the defence materiel requirements of the Department of Defence


· To acquire and procure defence materiel for the Department of Defence.

· To provide a quality assurance capability in support of the acquisition process and acquisition programmes.

· To dispose of excess, redundant, forfeited or surplus materiel of the SANDF.

· To support and maintain strategically essential defence industrial capabilities, resources and technologies in consultation with the DOD.

· To perform any function for and on behalf of another sovereign State with necessary Ministerial approval & in consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

· To render acquisition and procurement support to other organs of State with Ministerial approval.

· To undertake other related functions as may be determined by the Minister.


· Professional programme management.

· A system for contracting the industry.

· A system for tender management, evaluation and adjudication.

· Government appointed quality assurance authority on defence materiel.

· A system for managing defence industrial participation programmes.

· Management of the Corporation's strategic facilities & subsidiary companies in support of acquisition & technology programmes.

· Management of intellectual property acquired for the DOD.

· Management of technology projects in support of acquisition programmes & government strategies.

· Facilitating the marketing of local defence -related products to international markets in consultation with the DOD & the defence-related industry.




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