National Conventional Arms Control Committee 2nd to 4th quarter 2011 performance report

Defence

14 March 2012
Chairperson: Mr J Maake (ANC) & Mr S Montsitsi (ANC; Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) briefed the Committee on its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter of 2011 reports. At the outset, it was noted that NCACC had a duty to provide quarterly reports to Parliament, and set out what those reports should contain. The statutory mandate of the NCACC was to regulate the development, manufacture, possession, trade and transfer of conventional arms in South Africa. The NCACC administered the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA) and the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities Act. The NCACC was a Cabinet Committee appointed specifically by the President and comprised of seven Cabinet Ministers and three Deputy Ministers. The positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson must be held by Cabinet Ministers who did not have line function interests in the conventional arms business. The NCACC was supported by the Directorate of Conventional Arms Control, an Inspectorate and a Scrutiny Committee. It was also supported by various government departments and agencies. The NCACC met monthly to consider arms transfer applications lodged by the defence industry with the Secretariat, considering each application in context and taking into account a range of factors provided for in the NCACC Act. NCACC had a mechanism for responding to developing situations in countries which was outlined. If a situation was deteriorating, it was possible for the NCACC to place applications on hold, and to deny authorization. In this period, regulations under the NCACC Act had been completed and were being promulgated. Grants and permits for each quarter were outlined, and the categorisation of weapons was explained. The countries to whom the weapons were exported, in the three quarters under review, were set out with the value.

Members asked the extent to which South Africa was prepared for, and would be secured, in the event of cyber attack, and the Chairperson of the Committee responded that a policy was being put in place, and would be presented to the appropriate Committee.
A DA member asked for comment on four allegations, relating to the sale of Aviation G-Suits to Iran in 2009, illegal export of arms to Madagascar in 2009, hull designs being made in South Africa for Iranian oil companies, and bribes offered for the export of conventional arms to Iran. The Chairperson responded that three of the allegations had been investigated and details had already been given to the Joint Chairs, whilst the fourth allegation was not known. The DA Member also asked if there were plans to strengthen the Directorate and asked for the reasons behind the suspension of the former Head.

Meeting report

National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) briefing on 2nd, 3rd, 4th quarter 2011 performance reports
Minister Jeff Radebe, Chairperson, National Conventional Arms Control Committee, noted that the reporting obligations of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) were prescribed in section 23 of the NCACC Act (the Act). In summary, it was required to provide quarterly and annual reports to Parliament. This Act prescribed the content of the quarterly reports, which must reflect information in relation to country, category and value. The information that the NCACC disclosed should not compromise the security, commercial and other confidential interests of the country. He noted that these quarterly reports were prepared in accordance with these requirements.

Mr Radebe summarised that the NCACC was established under the NCACC Act, which also established other supporting structures. The statutory mandate of the NCACC was to regulate the development, manufacture, possession, trade and transfer of conventional arms in South Africa. The NCACC administered the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA) and the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities Act.

He noted that the NCACC was a Cabinet Committee sui generis, which was appointed specifically by the President and comprised of seven Cabinet Ministers and three Deputy Ministers. By law, the positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson must be held by Cabinet Ministers who did not have line function interests in the conventional arms business. He listed the current members as Ministers J Radebe (Chair), G Pandor (Deputy Chair), L Sisulu, R Davies, S Cwele, M Nkoana-Mashabane, N Mthethwa, and Deputy Ministers R Makwetla, E Ebrahim, and N Nene.

Mr Radebe outlined the
supporting structures established under the NCACC to enable the NCACC to deliver on its statutory mandate. The Directorate: Conventional Arms Control provided secretarial and administrative support to the NCACC. The Inspectorate looked after matters of compliance, and the Scrutiny Committee considered applications and made recommendations to the NCACC. The NCACC was also supported by various government departments and agencies, including South African Police Service (SAPS), Department of Defence (DoD), Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), State Security Agency (SSA), Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and South African Revenue Service: Customs.   

He explained that the NCACC met on a monthly basis to consider arms transfer applications lodged by the defence industry with the Secretariat. Every one of the applications was considered in context, and it took into account a range of factors as provided for in Section 15 of the Act (Guiding Principles). Permit applications were either approved or denied. NCACC had a mechanism for responding to developing situations in countries. It would call for departmental input, specifically from DIRCO, SSA and dti, on any developments of concern in a particular country, and place applications to that country on hold. The NCACC monitored the situation, and, if it further deteriorated, would deny authorisation to such countries. In order to facilitate trade, the NCACC delegated some of its powers, in particular to the Secretariat which executed its decisions. The Inspectorate checked for compliance with decisions.

Mr Radebe noted that the NCACC Amendment Act regulations had been completed and were in the process of promulgation.

Mr Radebe then outlined the grants and permits in each of the quarters under review (see attached document for full details.) He noted also the total value of the permits issued, in each of the quarters, in respect of the contracting, export, and import permits.

Mr Radebe stated that the categorisation of weapons was the tool used to demonstrate the lethal nature of equipment. He noted the three major categories, as follows:

Category A comprised sensitive major conventional implements of war that could cause heavy personnel casualties and/or major damage and destruction to materiel, structures, objects and facilities. Examples were fighter aircraft, submarines, explosives, missiles, bombs, artillery guns, tanks, and weapons with a calibre of 12,7mm (0, 5 inch) and larger.

Category B comprised all types of handheld and portable assault weapons of a calibre smaller than 12,7mm (0,5 inch). Examples were assault rifles, machine guns, and ammunition for the weapons.

Category C comprised all support equipment usually employed in the direct support of combat operations that had no inherent capability to kill or to destruct. Examples were radio transceivers, radars, unmanned air vehicles, and simulators.

Category D comprised all purposely designed de-mining, mine clearing and mine detection equipment and all non-lethal pyrotechnical and riot control products. Examples were mine detectors, riot control agents, and flares.


Category E comprised all armaments and related products that were not allowed to be sold, such as anti-personnel mines, incendiary weapons and laser weapons.

Category G comprised all purposely built armaments manufacturing equipment, plants, facilities and test ranges for the manufacture, development, maintenance, test, upgrade and refurbishment of armaments products. It also covered purposely-developed techniques and services, other than contractual after-sales service, that had a relevance to development, use, maintenance, assistance and advice in relation to armaments and related products.

The countries to whom the weapons were exported, in the three quarters under review, were set out (see attached document for full details), noting the value in rounded to millions of rand (see attached document for details). In the second quarter, Equador received the most, followed by USA and Algeria, with a total of R1,5 billion. In the third quarter, USA, Algeria and Kenya received the most, and the total was R1.9 billion. In the fourth quarter, USA, Spain and Finland received the most, and the total was R1.8 billion.

Discussion
Mr S Montsitsi (ANC; Gauteng) sought to know the extent to which South Africa was secured in the event of a cyber attack. He noted that other countries had been faced with such attacks on operations, and wanted to know if South Africa was ready to prevent and tackle such an attack.

Mr Radebe replied that the possibility of a cyber attack was indeed worrying and that a policy was being put in place to fight cyber warfare. He stated that there would be a briefing to the appropriate committee on the contents of the policy, at an appropriate time.

Mr D Maynier (DA) stated referred to an allegation, in 2009, about the sale of Aviation G-suits by a South African company to Iran, and asked if an investigation had been conducted into that allegation.

Mr Maynier asked if any investigation had been carried into the allegations that a South African company had been making hull designs for Iranian oil companies.

Mr Maynier further asked if any investigation had been conducted into allegations of illegal export of arms to Madagascar in 2009.

Mr Radebe replied that details concerning investigations into all the allegations referred to by Mr Maynier would not be given at the meeting, because the details had already been made available to the Joint Chairs. He stated that there was no need to go into these responses again, because the purpose of this briefing was to deal with the quarterly reports.

Mr Maynier commented that there had been some concern over the last two years about the institutional strength of the Directorate. He asked if there were any plans to strengthen the institution. He asked for the reasons behind the suspension of the former head, and asked who was currently heading the Directorate.

Mr Radebe said that the Directorate was working very hard. There was, however, a need to increase its capacity and capability, to give support to the NCACC. Funding had now been made available, which should increase the efficiency of the institution, and interviews were presently being held in order to employ people who could provide the support required.
 
Mr Radebe also confirmed that the former head of the Directorate was no longer heading the institution, because the NCACC had been uncomfortable about certain issues. He stated that the Secretary of Defence was handling the disciplinary procedures in respect of the former head, and that the outcome was not yet known.

Mr Maynier questioned if investigations had been conducted into the allegations that MTN had bribed some officials in order to support the export of conventional arms to Iran. He stated that this matter fell within the Minister’s portfolio.

Mr Radebe replied that the details of such allegations were not known to him.

Mr Maynier stated that he would be glad to supply the required information in support of the allegations.

The meeting was adjourned

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