NCACC 3rd Quarter Report: Minister briefing; Letter from President: SANDF deployment at SONA; Cuba Study Tour

Defence

17 February 2017
Chairperson: Mr E Mlambo (ANC)

Meeting Summary

Committee Programme of the Joint Standing Committee
Minutes of 7 December 2016

The NCACC Chairperson and Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe, reported on the 2016 Third Quarterly Report. He noted the legislative requirements of the NCACC were the NCACC Act, No 41 of 2002 as amended by the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Act 73 of 2008, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA), No 15 of 1998 and the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act, No 27 of 2006. The Minister noted the requirements of the NCACC were to ensure compliance with Government policy in respect of arms control, the implementation of a legitimate, effective and transparent process, providing an inspectorate to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act, fostering national and international confidence for control over trade in conventional arms and the protection of economic and security interests.

Tiers of decision making were: the relevant Departments reviewed the transfer of controlled items and answered to the Scrutiny Committee which made recommendations and answered to the NCACC (Cabinet Committee) which authorised the transfer of controlled items,

In discussion, the Committee asked the Minister Radebe to explain how the NCACC ensured that the contracts authorised did not end up with individuals that were prone to human rights violations; state strategies used to ensure that companies upheld the rules and regulations of approval when company shareholders were changed; how the NCACC assessed the situation of the civil war in Syria; asked if the NCACC relied on only one particular source in terms of the sales; its current policy on arms trading; what was happening in Syria; the view of SA on the Syria and how it dealt with such situations.

Based on the Minister’s response, the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) asked Minister Radebe to give an estimate of the number of cases that South African Police Service (SAPS) were currently investigating on behalf of NCACC. How NCACC dealt with weapons stolen from the Defence Force or were meant to be destroyed but were found in war zones, conflict areas or were even stockpiled against South Africa; if the NCACC had made improvements on arms imports and exports to Southern African developing countries and other African countries in terms of SA foreign policy, if the NCACC was comfortable with the relationship it had with SADC and how it marketed the arms.

The JSC also considered the letter from the President which was about the employment of 441 officers from South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist SAPS to maintain law and order during the opening of Parliament in Cape Town from 5-10 February 2017. The Committee observed that according to the legislation, the President must inform the Committee in writing before implementing such decisions. The Committee Chairperson was asked to explain why the President had not informed the Committee before deploying SANDF officers to Parliament and was he aware of the reason the President appointed the SANDF. There had been contradictory statements from the Minister of Defence (MoD), the Speaker about the deployment of SANDF officers. A Member suggested that the Minister of Defence should be invited to give more information about the deployment.

The Chairperson explained that the JSC had been having issues with late receipt of letters from the authorities of Parliament. However, he reported that the information he received was that the NCOP had received the letter on 2 February, 2017. The late receipt of letters was due to operational challenges and the JSC would ask for the requested information from the relevant authorities. Members suggested that the JSC could invite the Secretary of Defence to brief the JSC on the operations of the deployed SANDF officers since the letter had been accepted by Parliament and the deployment had already been finalised. The President’s letter was adopted by the Committee and it resolved to invite the MoD to give a true picture of what happened when the deployment occurred.

The Committee was informed that the proposed study visit to Cuba had not been approved for the present quarter but both JSC Chairs had made a commitment to engage the Chair of Chairpersons on the matter and propose the new date of April 2017. Members remarked that planning of study visits during constituency period was difficult but suggested that the relevant authorities make a timely commitment so that member could plan their activities. The JSC resolved that both chairs would engage the Chair of Chairpersons on the study visit and give a feedback to Members.

The Committee Programme was considered and adopted for the first term. Only four meetings could be scheduled for the first term. The Committee wanted confirmation on whether members would still accompany the MoD on the visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) according to his request. The Committee resolved to make follow-up consultations with the Department of Defence (DoD) since the DoD had not updated the Committee. Members observed that two Fridays had been set aside for meetings on the Defence Review but due to the budget cuts there was no justification for briefings on Milestones programmes of the of the Defence Review. The Committee resolved that Treasury and DoD should give written responses to issues that would be presented before the meeting date so that the JSC could make a decision on appearance of the Department. The Committee resolved that it would invite the Ministers of Finance and Defence to answer questions about the Defence budget allocation if it was not satisfied with the submissions from Treasury and DoD.
 

Meeting report

National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) 3rd Quarter Report
The NCACC Chairperson and Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe, introduced his team member the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Mr Kebby Maphatsoe. In his briefing, the Minister Radebe stated that the report covered controlled items regulation statistics and the authorised exports and imports (see appendix a, b and c). He reported that the transfer of controlled items during the period was done in accordance with relevant constitutional provisions.

He noted the legislative requirements of the NCACC were the NCACC Act, No 41 of 2002 as amended by the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Act 73 of 2008, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA), No 15 of 1998 and the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act, No 27 of 2006. The Minister noted the requirements of the NCACC were to ensure compliance with Government policy in respect of arms control, the implementation of a legitimate, effective and transparent process, providing an inspectorate to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act, fostering national and international confidence for control over trade in conventional arms and the protection of economic and security interests. The relevant legislation that guarded transfers were treaties, conventions and interest group arrangements.

The pillars of South Africa arms control depended on the NCACC Act (DoD), the Non-Proliferation Act (DTI) and the Firearms Control Act and Explosives Act (SAPS). The NCACC Committee made up of Cabinet members was appointed by the President in line with Section 5 of the NCACC Act.

Tiers in the decision making process were: the DoD, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, (DIRCO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), South African Police Service (SAPS), State Security Agency (SSA) and Defence Intelligence reviewed the transfer of controlled items; the Scrutiny Committee (drawn from the Departments) then made the recommendations on transfer of controlled items and the NCACC Cabinet Committee finally authorised the transfer of controlled items.

The Scrutiny Committee was established by Section 7 of the NCACC Act. The secretariat of NCACC was the Directorate for Conventional Arms Control (DCAC) which was established by Section 8 of the NCACC Act and served as the Nodal Interface Point with the South African Defence Industry (SADI) while the NCACC Inspectorate was established by Section 9 of the NCACC Act. The guiding principles for safeguards on transfers were established by section 15 of the NCACC Act. The criteria for the transfer of controlled items were the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Arms Embargo, Stability in the region, promotion of Human Rights in Governance, ensuring national interest, provisions of various undertakings in line with Section 16 by the receiving country, End-User Certificates as provided by Section 16, conduction of routine inspection (Section 18), entry and search of premises with warrant (Section 19) and disclosure and non-disclosure of information (Section 23). The report presented by NCACC on transfer of controlled items was prescribed by Section 23(2) of the NCACC Act. The report had to comply with the United Nations (UN) Conventional Arms Register and the NCACC reported to multi-lateral bodies such as the UN General Assembly and Disarmament Affairs.

On the financial figures, the Minister reported that the contracting and export annual and quarterly figures varied because the value of contracting represented the ceiling of authorisation by NCACC per contract at a given time while value of exports represented the actual exports undertaken. Other reasons indicated for this were: difference between part shipments against existing contracting permits and long term contracts that were extended. Variances occurred based on domestic dynamics that affected foreign exchange and volatile situations experienced in all countries. In addition the Act required that permits denied when application requirements were not satisfied had to be reported on. Based on this, the Minister reported that in the third quarter of 2016 there were two denials concerning Taiwan and Russia based on SA policy on China and concerns about Russia respectively.

Discussion
Mr S Marais (DA) asked the Minister to explain how NCACC ensure that approved contracts for transfer of controlled items did not end up with nationals of countries that had human rights violations. He asked the NCACC to state the strategies it used to ensure that companies upheld the rules and regulations of approval when a change in company shareholders led to owners with interests that violated human rights such as export of arms to the Middle East.

Mr S Esau (DA) observed that with the crises in the Middle East, many civilians especially women and children had been killed in the civil wars. He asked the NCACC how it assessed the situation and asked if the NCACC relied on only one particular source in terms of the sales.

Mr M Booi (ANC) asked the NCACC to state its current policy on arms trading and to state what was happening in Syria, South Africa’s view on Syria and how it dealt with such situations.

Mr Rabebe replied that the NCACC was guided by provisions of the Act, particularly Section 15. There were guiding principles to safeguard that the NCACC did not make authorisations on transfer of controlled items that could worsen the conflicts around the area. The NCACC followed United Nations Security Council Resolutions and once an embargo was in place, arms could not be transferred. The NCACC was guided by governance issues such as human rights and politics in the region, they considered regional dynamics, risk of diversions, security issues, economic dynamics and ensured that the SA national interest was the guide to make decisions on authorisations.

Mr Rabebe replied that the NCACC enforced decisions with a scrutiny force which comprised of members from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), DTI, DIRCO, and SSA. When the NCACC suspected that there was instability in a particular region and got reports from Military Intelligence, the NCACC would instruct the Directorate to conduct investigations. For instance, if there was a change in ownership, the company was obliged by the Act to report to the NCACC so that the change can be authorised. The directorate would conduct investigations on the company and get updates on the deviation. Based on such instances, the NCACC could withdraw authorisation if the new owners had a history of human rights violations. The NCACC did not have adequate capacity to follow up some recommendations because SAPS claimed it was not there priority. In addition, NCACC sometimes engaged SAPS to give updates on some of the on-going investigations and prosecutions. The NCACC had meetings every month to meticulously scrutinise every application and authorisations were not given when the Committee had doubts.

The Chairperson remarked that the Minister had mentioned that SAPS carried out some investigations. He asked the Minister to give an estimate of the number investigations that SAPS were currently investigating.

The Minister replied that he did not presently have the details but committed that the NCACC would give the details of such investigations to the JSC.

Mr Marais remarked that there were reports that some weapons were stolen or disappeared from the Defence Force and there were some that were meant to be destroyed but were found in war zones, conflict areas or were even stockpiled against SA. He asked how the NCACC dealt with such issues, if many such cases had been received and how they were treated.

The Minister replied that it was not the mandate of the NCACC to deal with such issues. The destruction of arms was handled by the Defence Force and SAPS. However, when the Directorate made recommendations to destroy weapons the NCACC was present to ensure that such weapons were destroyed It was the responsibility of SANDF to destroy weapons while NCACC authorised the transfer of arms from SA.

Mr D Gamede (ANC) stated that he was happy with the Minister’s presentation and asked if the NCACC had made improvements on imports and exports to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other African countries in terms of SA foreign policy. He asked if NCACC was comfortable with the relationship it had with SADC.

The Minister replied that he did not have the statistics with him presently but the NCACC had a limited amount of authorisations with SADC. However the NCACC had orders on small arms for hunting.

Mr Booi asked NCACC to state how it marketed the arms.

The Minister replied that the mandate of the NCACC was authorisation but companies handled marketing after it had been authorised by the NCACC, He emphasised that the NCACC did not trade in arms and it was only the private sector that traded in arms. The NCACC followed strict rules and regulations in authorising contracts on arms for the private sector.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for attending the meeting and discharged the Minister and his team.

Letter from the President
The Chairperson instructed the Committee Secretary to read out the letter from the President.

The letter from the President was about the employment of 441 officers from SANDF to assist the SAPS to maintain law and order during the opening of Parliament in Cape Town from 5 - 10 February 2017. The employment was authorised by the President according to the provisions of Section 201(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of SA, 1996.

The Chairperson invited Members to comment on the letter from the President.

Mr Marais remarked that he understood that the Chairperson had more information on the employment of members of SANDF to assist the SAPS. He observed that according to the legislation, the President must inform the Committee in writing before implementing such decisions. He asked the Chairperson to state why the President had not informed the Committee before employing the SANDF to assist SAPS in Parliament because the Parliament had been already in session at the time. He asked if the Chairperson was aware of the reason the President appointed SANDF members. He asked for more information on the deployment of the SANDF to assist SAPS to maintain law and order during the opening of Parliament because of the contradictions between the statements of the Minister of Defence (MoD), the Speaker about the observed deployment of SANDF officers.

Mr Booi suggested that the Committee should invite the Minister of Defence to give more information about what took place when the deployment occurred.

The Chairperson stated that the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) had been having issues with late receipt of letters from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the National Assembly relevant authorities However, the information he had was that the NCOP had received the letter on 2 February, 2017. The details of the stages the letter and information passed through were with the NCOP and National Assembly. The late receipt of letters was due to operational challenges and the Committee would request this information from the relevant authorities.

Mr Gamede informed members that in terms of process, the President writes to Parliament through the Speaker and the NCOP Chairperson. Therefore the information the JSC wanted could be collected from the Speaker and the NCOP Chairperson.

The Chairperson stated that since details could only be received from the Speaker and the Chairperson of NCOP, he would engage with the relevant authorities as suggested by Mr Booi.

Mr Booi suggested that the Committee had two options: the Chairperson could engage with the authorities to get details on the President’s letter before this letter was adopted or the Committee could adopt the President’s letter and latter receive detailed information from the authorities.

Mr Esau suggested that the JSC could request the Secretary of Defence to brief the JSC on the operations of the deployed SANDF officers since the letter had been accepted by Parliament and the activity had already been carried out.

The Chairperson noted that since the President’s letter had been sent to the JSC, the Members had to adopt the letter.

The motion for the adoption of the President’s letter was moved by Mr Gamede and seconded by Mr T Motlashuping (ANC).

Cuba Study Tour
The Committee Secretary informed the JSC that the planned study tour to Cuba was not approved for the current financial year. Both House Chairs had agreed to look at the finances and draft another application for next financial year and would make new proposals for the study tour to take place in April 2017 as this was the only possible time to fit in the study tour.

The Chairperson remarked that the JSC was supposed to have gone to either Algeria or Cuba but Cuba was seconded due to cost implications. The JSC was waiting for Parliament to complete its approval processes.

Mr Marais asked the Chairperson to explain the process mechanisms for application and approval of a Committee budget .He asked if the JSC study tour had not been approved for the current financial year because it was not part of the preferential priority areas of Parliament.

Mr Booi said that Committees presented their budgets then the Chair of Chairpersons of Committees makes a decision based on the House mandate. The Chairperson should make a strong case for the JSC because the Committee had not been on a study tour in recent times but approvals were given by the Chair of Chairpersons.

Mr Esau said that approval and commitment by the relevant authorities should be sorted out on time since the JSC was not in recess in April which was a constituency period. Therefore a commitment by the relevant authorities would allow Members to organise their activities to fit in the proposed study tour time period.

Mr Gamede remarked that planning for visits during the constituency period was difficult and it was a pity that the reason for disapproval was not given because the period for oversight visits should be 21 – 31 March. He suggested that both Chairs should engage the relevant authorities to find out why the study visit was not approved for during the period recommended for oversight visits.

The Chairperson stated that both Committee Chairs would engage with the Chair of Chairpersons on the matter and would propose to him the new date of April 2017 since the Committee had not been on any study tours in recent times. They would give feedback to Members.

First Term Committee Programme
The Chairperson invited Members to consider the Draft Programme.

Mr Esau observed that based on the programme only four meetings could be scheduled for the first term. He asked the Chairperson to confirm if Members would still accompany the Minister of Defence on the visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) according to his request.

The Chairperson reported that the JSC was supposed to have gone to DRC in January but the DoD had not given any update on the trip. However he would follow up with the DoD and inform the Committee.

Mr Marais observed that the First Term Committee Programme had set aside two Fridays for meetings on the Defence Review but due to the budget cuts there was no justification for briefings on its Milestones programmes. He suggested that the Committee request that DoD give an honest opinion on the situation of the Department so that progress on the implementation of the Defence Review could be discussed.

The Chairperson remarked that Mr Marais had made a critical point because when the JSC adopted the Defence Review, Treasury made a commitment to allocate a budget to assist the Milestone programmes. However the JSC could not pre-empt the DoD but suggested that the Committee could request the DoD to send its presentation before the meeting so that the Committee could make informed decisions about the appearance of DoD.

Mr Motlashuping suggested that the JSC could look at what it wanted to achieve from the meeting with the DoD because this would guide their instructions on the content of the presentation instead of pre-empting the DoD presentation

Mr Booi said that there was nothing wrong in requesting that DoD send its presentation to the Committee before the meeting date so that the Committee could clarify if the DoD had money for its Milestone programmes. He stated that although Treasury was under pressure there was a need to present the true situation to the Committee so progress could be made on the Defence Review. Therefore he supported the Chairperson’s suggestion to get clarity on the way forward because Treasury would only send officials to the meeting.

Mr Esau supported the Chairperson’s suggestion that the DoD needed to send its presentation before the meeting because the DoD had to cope with budget cuts. Based on the Chairperson’s submission he said that the Committee needed to have a clear agenda before the meeting.

The Chairperson remarked that the JSC could not sit down to listen to stories of lack of budget allocation by the Department every year when men and women who needed to serve the country are on foreign missions. He therefore resolved that the Committee would write to the Treasury and DoD and insist on responses to issues to be submitted before the meeting date so that the JSC could make a decision on the appearance of the Department. He stated that the Committee would invite the Ministers of Finance and Defence to answer questions of budget allocation if it was not satisfied with submissions from Treasury and DoD.

Mr Marais said that the responses on budget allocation were critical because of the welfare of the Defence forces.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Marais and asked the Secretary to take note and give an update on progress for accommodation and accreditation logistics for Members who wanted to attend the Armed Forces Day in Durban.

Mr Marais asked if the Chair of Committees had made any commitment on the applications.

The Secretary reported that the application was with the House Chair at Parliament and for the NCOP, it was with the Chief Whip, to finalise the approval process. The logistics would be provided as soon as that process was completed.

The Chairperson asked the Members who wanted to attend the event to fill and submit the forms that were been circulated by the Secretary in time so that Members would receive feedback on the logistics to attend the event at the end of business day.

The Committee adopted the First Term programme.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 7 December 2016 and the meeting was adjourned.