During the meeting to consider its Quarter 2 performance report, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) was questioned by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on its encryption-like information, responses and statistical mistakes in the documents issued to the Committee. The Chairperson remarked that generally NCACC had encrypted the information the Committee sought and had responded in an encrypted manner to their questions.
The NCACC had approved and amended the End User Certificate (EUC) provision for inspections post shipment. The Amendment had been gazetted on 11 May 2020.
NCACC explained that its statistics were done per calendar year and not financial year. The Annual Report of the past calendar year was compiled during the Q1 of the year following. The 1st Quarterly Report of the current year was compiled during Quarter 2. The Report to the United Nations was also compiled in Q2, that report needed approval by Parliament before being submitted to the United Nations. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation reported to the United Nations on behalf of South Africa.
During the previous meeting on its Quarter 1 performance report, NCACC was questioned about reports that military hardware had been exported to Turkey in May 2020, with the possibility that these armaments might end up in Libya. Members asked about the current situation with Turkey and how that had been dealt with.
The Committee believed that lapsed permits that were re-issued much later should be introduced into the oversight reports as circumstances in those countries may have changed.
Members asked if the impediments with the End User Certificate causing the slow turnaround time had been dealt with, as it not only caused frustration but affected exports. They asked how exactly the EUC was being enforced.
The Appendix that NCACC supplied raised several concerns. Members sought clarity how the figures, statistics and values supplied could possibly be correct. The NCACC was asked to give a more comprehensive outlook to the Committee next time including how well the industry was performing; information on countries South Africa supplied and the reason for supplying those countries; and an economic analysis of the data.
The Chairperson welcomed the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) led by Mr Ezra Jele, Head of the NCACC Secretariat, who briefed the Committee.
National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) presentation
Procedural Matters on Briefing the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD)
- Reporting to Parliament is prescribed in the law (NCAC Act)
- Appearing to brief the JSCD is by invitation in terms of the Committees oversight role.
- The NCACC seeks always respond to the invitation by the JSCD to provide such briefing
- The NCACC can only brief the JSCD on Reports already tabled in Parliament.
High (low) Lights of Q2/2020
- NCACC has approved and amended the End User Certificate provision for inspections post shipment.
- The Amendment has been gazetted on 11 May 2020. The amended provisions of the UEC have force in law as per the Regulations of the Act.
- The country entered alert level 5 of the State of Disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The National Conventional Arms Control Act
- Act 41 of 2002 (as amended) (primary Act).
- Act 73 of 2008 (amendment Act).
The National Conventional Arms Control Act also frames the:
- Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA), Act 15 of 1998.
- Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in an area of Armed Conflict Act – Act 27 of 2006.
The Act captures the Object as being:
- To ensure compliance with Govt. policy in respect of arms control.
- To implement a legitimate, effective and transparent control process.
- To provide for an inspectorate to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act.
- Protection of Economic and Security Interests.
- Foster National and International confidence for control over trade in conventional arms
Scrutiny Committee (SC)
- Established in terms of s7(1-9).
- The SC is chaired by the Secretary for Defence as Director-General of the Department of Defence.
- Members are Senior Government Officials
- Scrutinize and Recommend decisions to the NCACC.
Safeguards on Transfers
The Guiding Principles and Criteria of s15:
- UN Security Council Resolutions (Arms Embargo)
- Governance – Politics, Human Rights
- Regional Dynamics – Stability
- Risk of Diversion – Proliferation (Non-State Actors)
- National Interest – Security, Political & Economic
End User Certificate
- A legal document recognized under International Law (article 1 Hague Convention)
- Required in terms of s17 of the Act, under pinned by s16
- Supports criteria 3 and 4 of s15 – Risk of Diversion (primarily) but lends greater support in promoting non-proliferation of arms (controlled items) and Regional Stability
- Permit Holders are under obligation to provide a VALID End User Certificate
- Annexure B of the Government Gazette R35283 (9741 Vol. 562)
- Permit Holder must inform the potential client (importer) of the requirement that ensures that there is compliance with the NCAC Act.
- Without a valid EUC, an Export cannot be effected under Law
- Statistics done on a Calendar not Financial Year basis
- The Annual Report of past calendar year is compiled, during the Q1 of the year following.
- The 1st Quarterly Report of current year is compiled during the 2nd Quarter.
- The Report to the United Nations is also compiled in Q2, this report needs approval by Parliament before submission to UN.
- DIRCO reports to the UN on behalf of RSA.
- The NCACC Framework is grounded in domestic law, which is in harmony with Treaties and Conventions.
- The Cabinet Committee applies itself effectively within the confines of prescribed Laws.
- The Cabinet Committee supports compliance with our International Commitments on Arms Control and the Secretariat is supported to attend Arms Control Meetings wherever these take place.
- Defence Industry members registered under the NCAC Act are subject thereto and must operate, grow within those parameters (Arms Control Framework).
Mr S Marais (DA) stated that it would be good to see the ‘actual’ delivered versus those 'approved'. He asked what the industry was actually achieving versus the approval of permits and contracts.
The Chairperson stated that he too had been waiting for Mr Jele to comment on that as the presentation never dealt with what had actually been delivered from the contracts.
Mr Jele responded that he did not wish to jump the gun; however, they were currently in a system development with their IT and should be able to start tracking that. However, it would still indicate that an authorization had been given by the NCACC for 20 items. Any adjustments would then need to be incorporated on the system.
The Chairperson stated that the lapse time would make it difficult to synchronize the approved permits and the actual delivery. Mr Jele could still report on what actually happened as a result of previous contracts and payments being granted. He asked if it would be possible for the system to give that information.
Mr Jele replied that they had a somewhat oldish system given what had been currently at play, however, their system was under development and would be launched early next year, which would provide them with better statistics and coverage. It would allow for sufficient data manipulation to receive the statistics which the Committee sought. Appendix B according to his understanding indicated exports which had been authorized. He would look into the appendixes as sometimes the metadata in the system tended to get corrupted and produced incorrect information. He assured the Committee that he would look into the matter to get clarity and remove the confusion.
Mr Marais stated that the reason he raised the question was due to the End User Certificate and the UN requirements. If anyone bought from South Africa and was exporting it to another user; in terms of the End User Certificate, South Africa had to be informed of this.
Mr Jele replied that they were acting according to the requirements and until South Africa had its paperwork correct, no export could happen. The issues with paperwork from which Mozambique wished to purchase, regardless of the severe need in Mozambique required full compliance with the law. In principle, the agreement to supply Mozambique could have been discussed in Quarter 1 or Quarter 2. However, the actual authorization including export had happened in Quarter 3 as the paperwork needed to be in place and in full compliance with the law.
On Turkey, Mr Jele replied that what they had done was simply to reissue the lapsed permits with the validity date and then export could actually take place. These permits had already been accounted for in the previous Quarter statistics. Reissuing permits enabled products to leave the country whilst they had actually already being accounted for. He assured the Committee that he would double check that his responses were what had actually transpired.
Mr Marais stated that he found it strange that once a permit had been approved, it remained in place whether it had lapsed or not. The circumstances in the country were totally different and this permit ought to have been reported every time it lapsed. He gave an example of a permit issued 10 years ago which lapsed. It would seem that the same permit would just be reissued and not reported; whilst the circumstances in the country could have been totally different.
The Chairperson asked if there was an obligation to report on reissued permits.
Mr Jele responded that there was no such obligation.
The Chairperson stated that it seemed there was a problem with Appendix E. Figure A had not made any sense in the statistics provided.
Mr Jele believed that it referred to complete helicopters as it actually stated complete systems. However, he would follow up on that. There had been instances where previously militarized platforms had actually been demilitarized and brought into the country. Part of the work they did was the certification of the extent of demilitarization. This meant that the hot points were removed along with anything which could prove offensive. He would be following up for clarity on the values which had been provided in the Appendix. However, it could be that those helicopters had been demilitarized.
The Chairperson stated that generally Mr Jele had encrypted the information which the Committee sought and he had responded in an encrypted manner to questions. More information would be needed so that the Committee would not need to keep asking or sending written questions to be answered as it would have already been provided in black and white on paper.
The Chairperson informed Mr Jele that going forward, he knew the information the Committee was seeking and the Committee would expect it the next time he appeared before it. Mr Jele had perhaps not been telling them what exactly happened in the case of the helicopters.
Mr Jele replied that he tended to do that; however, the helicopters were cheap as the figures indicated.
The Chairperson affirmed that the figures indicated a cheapness which would allow the Committee to even be able to afford them which seemed questionable given the context in which they were being used.
Mr Marais stated that there were just two questions he sought answers on. Firstly, he asked what the rounds with regard to specific ammunition were for the Republic of Bulgaria. Secondly, on the last page on aerospace dealing with propulsion, he asked if any propulsion had been exported to the United Arab Emirates as well as whether it had been a propulsion system.
In response to the first question, Mr Jele responded that essentially those were for Bulgaria.
Mr Marais asked if those were bullets.
Mr Jele affirmed that it had been bullets. On propulsion, he explained that most of the things which had been exported belonged to what was called the ‘Munitions List’. However, dual use items were more technical and sometimes not very big. Due to the categorization which flowed directly from the arrangement, they probably would not have sent any big propulsion system. It could have been components which were out of the propulsion system which would have gone through in that case and which had been certified.
Mr Marais stated that with the End User Certificate, there had been frustrations about the slow turnaround time as that had been an impediment for exporting. They all needed to consult the amendment in the Gazette to check for themselves if the Committee's concerns they had raised had been satisfied.
Mr J Maake (ANC) sought understanding on how exactly the End User Certificate was being enforced.
The Chairperson replied that the situation had been corrected. It was being done now through bilateral agreements between countries.
Mr Marais added that with the bilateral arrangements, inspections would be done to ensure that there would be no violation of the integrity of how they could have perceived it.
The Chairperson stated that it was no longer a literal thing anymore. Rather, it was by mutual agreement between the countries.
Mr Jele responded that the Chairperson and Mr Marais had covered it correctly. There had been an amendment to the End User Certificate clause which actually provided for the assurance and certification of the End User. Products were done through diplomatic processes, however, he wished to state that the End User Certificate never intended for a unilateral action. South Africa and the country which wanted to do the inspection which covered an entire spectrum would be entitled to conduct those inspections internally. Mr Jele, as Head of the NCACC Secretariat, had to engage with the Defence units for them to be comfortable with how the NCACC was negotiating its best to manage the inspections.
The Chairperson stated that he was happy with the response and the discussion. However, he informed Mr Jele that more information needed to be deciphered to give a more comprehensive outlook to the Committee as Members did not want to assume anything. The Committee would also be interested in seeing how well the industry was performing. When Mr Jele appeared before the Committee again, an analysis of the how they were doing versus the previous Quarter or year to year would be sought. Information would be asked about countries with which South Africa had a strong relationship in supplying those countries, including the reason behind South Africa supplying those countries. Lastly, an economic analysis of the data would be requested. He asked Mr Jele if it would be possible to supply the Committee with an economic analysis.
Mr Jele affirmed that an economic analysis would be supplied to the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Jele and Members of the Committee for their participation in the discussion.
Mr Maake thanked Mr Marais for representing Members well on the engagement front and the questions supplied to the Secretariat.
The Chairperson seconded Mr Maake’s thanks to Mr Marais for the questions supplied to the Secretariat and for the vigorous engagement. He wished them all a good night.
The meeting was adjourned.
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