International Agreements; Defence Foreign Relations: briefing

Defence

05 August 2003
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Meeting report

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE and SELECT COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

DEFENCE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE; SECURITY AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE: JOINT MEETING
6 August 2003
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS; DEFENCE FOREIGN RELATIONS: BRIEFING


Chairperson : Ms T R Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Defence's Agreement with International Community
Department of Defence Management Process on International Agreements
Summary of Department of Defence's Agreements
Status of International Agreements
Defence Foreign Relations Briefing (Restricted Document)

SUMMARY
The Department of Defence briefed the Committee on the present position relating to international agreements with various countries and the Defence Foreign relations in connection with these agreements. A briefing was also made to the Committee on the status of Military Attaches on foreign soil.

MINUTES
International Agreements
The Department was represented by : Mr T E Motumi, Chief of Policy and Planning, Mr I M Siko, Director Foreign Relations Policy, Mr Zambodla, Head of Communications, Ministry of Defence.

Mr Siko presented the Parliamentary Briefing on Department of Defence Management Process regarding International Agreements. The Status of International Agreements and the Summary thereof was presented by Mr McDuling, Deputy Director Foreign Relations Policy.

Discussion
It was noted by a member that the agreements were discussed without mention of costs. How were these agreements maintained and funded?

Mr Siko stated that the agreement must be serviced in terms of its reference and indication within the agreement. The agreement could be serviced on an annual basis or as provided for in the agreement. Parties to an agreement hold staff talks and provision for funding is made in terms of the agreement. First the budget is done in terms of the agreement and then within the Defence budget.

Mr Z Kati (ANC) enquired whether all agreements as they stood were signed and what was the process on informing Parliament on such agreements. He went on to enquire as to why there were no agreements with Central America, the Peoples' Republic of China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba.

Mr Siko replied to the issue of informing Parliament of such agreements by stating that once the agreement is concluded and signed it is registered with the various applicable bodies and is available for perusal. The agreements are visible and available through the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

As regards the various countries indicated by Mr Kati, Mr Siko stated that in relation to Central America, this area was not seen as a closed book regarding international relations. For Vietnam there was a draft agreement in place following upon a recent visit to the area. According to Mr Siko an agreement was in place with South Korea but not North Korea. As far as the Peoples' Republic of China was concerned, an agreement had been signed in 2001 and there had been a Chinese delegation visit approximately two months ago.

Mr Motumi stated that cognisance should be taken of agreements that were signed after 1994. He noted that there was much pressure on the Department to enter agreements with other countries during the early period after 1994, and most of the agreements referred to in the presentation to the Committee were signed in that time. Agreements may have subsequently expired or only have been entered into for a specific situation or task - such as the assistance rendered during the floods in Mozambique.

Mr Motumi stated that costs involved in such agreements related to time and people.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) enquired about the unauthorised expenditure by the Department of Defence and whether or not there was any investigation by the Auditor-General.

Mr Motumi stated a budget is put in place for a specific agreement. The Minister then authorises the conclusion of the agreements and ensures that the agreement is not in conflict with any legislation. An example of where no provision for budget was made was in the intervention in Lesotho.

The Chair enquired whether after conclusion of the agreement if the Department checked consistently whether or not funds were available.

There was a unanimous 'yes' from the representatives.

Mr Blaas (NNP) touched on the issue of an increase in international terror and whether or not there was a change in defence strategy and if agreements or channelled accordingly.

Mr Motumi said that there are specific agreements but the agreements do not address specific issues in themselves - rather, such specific issues are usually a subsidiary agreement of the main agreement.

Mr Siko added that besides bilateral or multilateral agreements there is the added factor of specific agreements where provision is made for the exchange of defence intelligence between parties. All this would, according to Mr Siko, depend on the requirements of the country wishing to share information.

Mr Centre added that because of the increase in international terror, it was necessary that issues such as money laundering also be drafted and addressed within the various multilateral agreements. He added that the Department was presently preparing itself for international discussions on this very issue on 5 September 2003.

Mr McDuling stated that the phase 3 of the management of such agreements included external department approval. Draft agreements are sent to other governmental departments for their input. He cited an example of Sweden where there is a general security agreement in place which only deals with the exchange of classified information.

Mr M Mokoena (ANC) enquired whether there was a draft agreement with Poland and if so, what did it entail.

Mr Siko referred to serial number 109 of the handout and stated that there was a draft agreement but he could not off-hand give details thereof. He also stated that some agreements may require other departments' input and must go through an approval process. This may mean that the agreement takes longer to conclude than other agreements.

Mr Mokoena enquired as to the process of what recourse is taken against a country that 'jumps the queue' in haste to sign an agreement with South Africa. Could it happen that an agreement is signed and then violated by that particular country.

Mr Siko stated that there is recourse where an agreement is too hastily entered into. He stated that the 'agreement must be based on the wheels of the parties' - ie. the wheel must be managed and measurable and must be monitored in order to bring about the results. He gave an example where an agreement may be entered into with country A which is situated in the Gulf region, however, the agreement may have had to have been postponed due to the war which broke out in the region, and then later resumed if considered desirable.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) enquired whether a military agreement would follow on a economic agreement. He gave the example of the increase in organised crime occurring in South Africa which may have been influenced by other countries such as Colombia. He found it strange that there was no agreement with this country.

Mr Mtumi stated that organised crime as it existed in the Latin American regions was not considered as being the Department's competency to deal with and assumed that the Department of Safety and Security and the Department of Home Affairs would be more involved on this level.
He went on to state that it would be more in the Department's 'jurisdiction' to involve itself with multilateral agreements with immediate neighbours on this issue and include issues such as defence, customs and excise, and use this framework to deal with the problem of organised crime.

Mr Fihla asked about agreements that lapse - did the agreements have particular terms (such as one year). He assumed that some form of friendship was sealed with these countries but once the agreement expires does it then mean that the friendship no longer existed.

According to Mr Mtumi, some agreements have an expiry period which usually occured after the reason for the agreement having been entered into has happened. Where there is no expiry date there is usually an exit clause which allows the agreement to be terminated.

Mr G Oosthuizen (ANC) referred to item 24 and noted that it had expired - what had happened here?

This item referred to the agreement with Israel and Mr Mtumi stated that the status of the agreement is that it pre-dated 1994 - in fact it was signed in 1975 and there was no other agreement in place since then. The agreement seemed to be centred on security and secrecy and dealt with projects in force at that time. An instruction had been issued from Cabinet that no further agreement or new agreements were to be entered into with Israel and accordingly this situation is continuing and agreements are on hold.

The Chair stated that during the Palestinian / Israeli conflict South Africa was accused of defensive relations with Israel - in light of this, what were the terms of the agreement? Was it not a manufacturing agreement?

Mr Siko quoted serial number 65 which referred to the type of agreement being a defence and defence equipment agreement. According to Mr Siko this agreement is referred and kept on hold. He stated that relations are at a low level because of the Gulf situation.

The Chair stated that she was not any wiser after this answer and that Mr Siko 'was a better politician'. She stated that the answer said nothing to her, especially since South Africa was essentially accused of murder.

Gen. De Lange clarified by stating that the agreements with Israel were pre-democracy agreements and related to aircraft mechanics. He believed that there was a report published in which the categories and types of equipment sold to Israel was made available. It was stated the equipment was 'Category C' and was non-offensive. The Department of Foreign Affairs at one stage wished to broker an agreement between the parties, however, nothing came of this and the offices were closed in Tel Aviv. Gen. De Lange stated that the agreement in force at the time was in relation to spares which Israel did use in their aircraft which in turn was used in the bombing of Palestine.

Mr Mokoena asked if the Department could confirm or deny if there was an agreement with the United States dealing with the selling of arms where such arms were used in Iraq.

The Chair also expressed interest on this matter.

Mr Motumi stated that such information would be made available when the annual report by the NACC is made available.

The Chair stated that the Department could then neither deny nor confirm this situation.

Mr Oosthuizen returned to the Israeli issue by stating that the agreement in 1975 relating to secrecy and security - was this agreement 'evergreen'? What about the intellectual property rights and patents in terms of this agreement - what was the real position relating to these issues. If there is another position then the information placed before the Committee was not the full picture or the correct information. It seemed to Mr Oosthuizen that the 1975 agreement must be long outdated and he wished to be informed on this matter.

Mr Motumi stated that a substantive answer would be given in the NOCC report.

Defence Foreign Relations Briefing
Brig Gen D de Lange, Chief Defence Foreign Relations presented the Briefing to the JSC Defence on Defence Foreign Relations.

Discussion
It was pointed out that in his Department there were many vacant positions - what was being done about these positions?

Gen De Lange stated that the Military Attaché (MA) conducted its business as the MA and this was not the same as working with the armed forces in peace deploying operations. The main task of the MA was to enhance relations and trust between South Africa and other countries.

He stated that there was a new breed of military personnel post 1994 which did not form part of the former Defence Force and as such were younger people with energy and no former allegiance.

To return to the issue of vacancies, Gen De Lange stated that the MA was not allowed to conduct activities if they could not budget for this and if they were not planned. Thus, no more staff could be employed - where internal staff could be used, this was the route that was taken. Consideration would be taken of how many people can be moved around inside the Department before looking outside to the Treasury.

Mr Centre also added that MA training occurs between countries, as well as staff talks between countries. There are discussions between parties which include also visits of ships, training exercise and also consideration of co-operation regarding acquisition of technology, industry etc.

Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) noted that the document as presented by Gen De Lange had not been signed by the Minister.

Gen De Lange stated that this was purely a physical impossibility but approval had been sought and given by the Minister verbally.

Mr Morwamoche noted that upgrading had occurred in respect of P5 countries but not of countries of SADC. What was the reasoning behind this?

Gen De Lange stated that the P5 countries had upgraded to 1 star but that this was a difficult decision as the rank indicates the importance of such a country. It is important that the message sent out must be uniform and that it must also support that of the Government. The question is whether or not it should follow on from international agreements.
By way of illustration, Gen De Lange stated for P5 countries all MAs are one rank below (in uniform). In such a situation one would have to rely on the nature of the agreement that the country has entered into. Gen De Lange pointed out that there were escape clauses where the agreement could be released and the MA withdrawn. It was considered better to use a rank which is even-handed. SADC countries have, according to Gen De Lange, received the bulk of the training offered. In addition, 1 star complicates the human resources within the SANDF.

The Chair stated that surely the grading should be SADC, then Africa, then the world. According to the Chair, the grading as presented seemed to work in reverse.

Gen De Lange stated that SADC is first and foremost, however, P5 countries have different interests in international affairs. Where the Seychelles has, for example, withdrawn from SADC, this has an immediate impact, however, the likelihood of any change within the P5 would be minimal.

The Chair then asked whether it was necessary to have a permanent MA at the United Nations in New York. Would it not be sufficient to have a 1 star?

Gen De Lange stated that accreditation to the UN is on a Colonel level and a 1 star level in Washington.

The Chair interjected by stating that this exactly proved her point in that one would rate the person at the UN higher than anywhere else. Would there be a certain level of persons going to the UN? It seemed to her that the African Unity (AU) level had a lower rating than France for example but the AU relationship is far more important.

Adm. Trainor answered by stating that this is an issue of symbolism and pragmatism and that P5 countries are usually accredited with 1 star. He went on to state that Pretoria is a military diplomatic hub and is used as the best listening post for this region. One needed to be careful where countries do not reciprocate. Essentially he noted that the whole process is a bit of a game.

The Chair concluded by stating that this last point made was exactly the problem in that there seemed to be too many generals and that there should be more 1 star posts. This would mean that one must cut corners and one must look at what can and cannot be afforded.

Adm. Traine , Chief of Corporate Staff stated that this is not necessarily the situation in that one can have the same rank where one person is a superior and another a subordinate within that particular rank. Upgrading is not a foregone conclusion. Upgrading of 1 star is usually initiated by the Department of Foreign Affairs. He concluded by stating that there is a role that the Defence Force can play in avoiding war and understanding what happens in the world. It is important to know one's potential friends and potential enemies and it is imperative to make a consistent approach.

The Chair concluded the meeting by stating that South Africa is actively getting herself acquainted with her neighbours as can be seen from the various exercises indicated in the presentation (Blue Angel and Blue Crane). However, there should be more exercise together. She added that where the Department of Foreign Affairs engages the Department then the Department must engaged the Department of Foreign Affairs - if not, Defence is not compensated sufficiently. The Chair's final words were to Gen De Lange where she stated that the MA department does not have sufficient African or Coloured staff.

The meeting was adjourned.



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