Armscor and Castle of Good Hope 2009/10 Annual Reports; Defence Amendment Bill: voting

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Defence and Military Veterans

12 October 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Booi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee approved the Defence Amendment Bill with the Freedom Front Plus voting against Clause 2.

There had been a rumour that the Minister had requested the tabling of the two Annual Reports should be postponed. This was not true, and Members requested that there should be a disciplinary investigation. The responsible officials should be punished if they were guilty.

The Castle was operating successfully as a tourist attraction. Its only revenue was from entrance charges and rental of facilities for functions. It would be more sustainable if it had control over the restaurant and function facilities that were currently still controlled by the South African National Defence Force.

Members questioned the military relevance of the Castle. They were told that a previous attempt to transfer the control of the Castle to a different department had been blocked. The concept of a private-public partnership had not been considered. The Castle had an important part to play in the preservation of the history of the country.

Armscor had received a clean audit report. It had met all but two of the strategic objectives it had set for itself. The company was striving to improve its compliance with employment equity guidelines. It was concerned with the sustainability of the local industry in the light of foreign competition. Revenue had decreased by 2.8% and the company had suffered a loss of R15 million. The contract for eight Airbus A400M had been cancelled and Armscor was trying to recover transfers already made. All the other acquisition programmes were well on track.

Members requested more details on the settlement made to Mr Sipho Thomo. There was frustration at the non-disclosure of information relating to the Airbus deal. Members felt that the use of percentages rather than actual numbers in the Annual Report was confusing. Members felt that transformation was too slow with the higher levels of management being largely untransformed. More information would be provided on certain programmes.

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