National Conventional Arms Control Bill: finalisation; Deputy Minister of Defence: briefing

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Defence and Military Veterans

05 March 2002
Chairperson: Ms T Modise (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee finalised the National Conventional Arms Control Bill, after a further few minor amendments. The Minister has agreed that within twelve months the fragmentary arms
control in terms of the Firearms and Ammunition Act will be brought into line.

The Committee was briefed on the shooting incident among troops in Burundi. A report into the incident is expected shortly. The Committee stressed the need to visit Burundi.

Meeting report



National Conventional Arms Control Bill
The State Law Adviser together with Mr Laurie Nathan (Centre for Conflict Resolution) discussed wording and syntax changes to the Bill. An amendment to Clause 1(ix) of the Bill extended the term "entity" to include "approved by foreign governments." Clause 5 (g) regarding socio-economic considerations, is amended to require the NCACC to take account of OAU resolutions concerning socio-economic aspects of military expenditure.

With respect to Clause 23 (1), Mr Nathan noted that a contracting permit is more important than the export permit, and that to give effect to oversight of pending applications, the review must look at the contracting permit rather than the later export permit.

Ms Modise asked whether the Bill is desirable to establish the NCACC Committee, to provide oversight guidelines and ensure South African adherence to international conventions.

The Committee agreed by assent.

Mr Schmidt (DP) asked what the Minister's answer was with respect to small firearms.

Ms Modise said the Minister has agreed that within twelve months the fragmentary arms
control in terms of the Firearms and Ammunition Act will be brought into line.

The Bill was adopted with the amendments outlined by the State Law Adviser and
Mr Nathan.

Briefing by Deputy Minister of Defence
Ms Nosizwe Madlala-Routledge, Deputy Minister of Defence, briefed the Committee on the deployment of troops in Burundi and the recent shooting, and noted that the recent shooting was the fourth such incident of a junior officer shooting his senior.

The Minister and Council on Defence held a meeting the previous day on this matter. The Department of Defence is processing a request for an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting. The investigation is not yet complete; a few more days are required.

Mr Schmidt said that he is aware of deep dissatisfaction amongst SANDF personnel. Could they have a report back on integration before 31 March?

Ms Modise agreed. Certain allegations and incidents suggest a need to re-examine the integration process, which affects both demobilisation and morale. Close their eyes to the problems with the SANDF would be irresponsible.

Mr Schmidt said he was concerned that the performance of troops sent as peacekeepers or ambassadors is so disappointing, indeed alarming. Discipline is so poor that it results in shootings. If there is no reason for the troops being in Burundi, they should be brought back. The number of returning politicians to Burundi does not justify the numbers of troops acting as bodyguards, but raises the question whether the placement of the troops in Burundi is still necessary. Another R150 million is being allocated for this purpose.

Mr Schmidt said he would like to revisit the purpose and reason for the Burundi mission, but also to emphasise the need to enforce discipline. An army without discipline is not an army.

Ms K Kota (ANC) said that the conditions of service and support networks must be investigated. What is the calibre of the team in Burundi?

Mr Schmidt said that they wanted a successful mission, and to know the steps taken to reassess the mission's purpose.

The Chairperson noted the Committee's views. They therefore needed a full briefing on the integration processes, including the Burundi incident. Have they done well given the conditions, or have they failed the rank and file soldiers? Soldiers should feel free to express themselves when the Committee visits bases, but that arrangement has not been established. There are eight fighting forces, two of them coming from diametrically opposed traditions. While supporting the mission in Burundi, the root causes of the incident must be examined. Where is the government failing their troops? Another discussion is needed regarding the Sitae report.

The Chief of the SANDF has said that the report on Burundi will be ready within a week. I support the need for this discussion. It is important for the Committee to visit army bases so that Members can see for themselves. The Chairperson was pleased that the Committee endorses the need for South African peacekeeping in Africa. SABC2 this morning showed that the people of Burundi support the presence of South African troops.

Ms Modise said that they do not have access to general access to the bases, except for those Members who are reserve officers and it would enable MPs to have more understanding. She said that she goes into bases unofficially, but normally the processes are too cumbersome and regulated, and prevent the soldiers from expressing themselves.

Ms Kota stressed that the Committee must go to Burundi.

Mr Mashimbye said that the Department of Defence will provide a plane in April.

Ms Modise said she would assume that the Committee's working programme was accepted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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