NCACC 2023 Annual Report; Legacy Report; with Minister


28 March 2024
Chairperson: Mr V Xaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Joint Standing Committee on Defence met virtually to receive a briefing from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) on its 2023 annual report. It also considered and adopted the Committee's Legacy Report for the Sixth Parliament, and reviewed outstanding minutes.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the 2023 annual report and fourth quarter findings, highlighting their significance for regional stability and global cooperation.

The Head of the NCACC Secretariat provided an overview of the committee's activities, focusing on controlled items, exports, imports and conveyances. The presentation compared statistics between 2022 and 2023, addressing concerns about foreign military assistance regulation, and the information technology system refurbishment project.

During the subsequent discussion, a Member raised concerns about the enforcement of legislation and the defence industry implications, prompting responses from the Ministry regarding evidence gathering and application processes.

The Chairperson facilitated further dialogue on regulatory challenges and infrastructure issues, stressing the importance of effective oversight and interdepartmental coordination.

The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Committee's Legacy Report and minutes, accompanied by expressions of appreciation from Members for the Chairperson's leadership and collegial collaboration.

The Chairperson reciprocated the appreciation, and wished everyone success in their election campaign activities. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said they were convening to receive a briefing from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) on its 2023 annual report. They would also be considering and adopting the Joint Standing Committee on Defence's Legacy Report for the Sixth Parliament, as well as reviewing and adopting the minutes of meetings.

They would move straight to the presentation without delay, focusing on the annual report which encompassed the fourth quarter. He said both reports had been recently presented in Parliament by the Minister, who chaired the NCACC, and highlighted their resolution to have at least one annual meeting where the Minister would present the fourth quarter and annual report. He explained that for the other quarters, they had deemed it sufficient to receive updates from the head of the secretariat, focusing on a month-to-month and year-to-year analysis.

The Chairperson stressed the importance of the Minister's focus on comparative analysis and addressing weaknesses in the system to enhance efficiency and performance. He underscored the critical role of the entity in facilitating the industry's performance, and urged the removal of any obstacles to business operations. He invited Minister Mondli Gungubele to present the report.

Mr S Marais (DA) expressed his appreciation for the introduction by the Chairperson and acknowledged that this was their final meeting, indicating it was primarily for academic purposes. However, he recalled the past, when there had been regular visits and attendance by the chairperson of the NCACC, particularly during Minister Mthembu's tenure. He emphasised the importance of ongoing regular appearances by the relevant Minister for effective oversight of both the Minister and the NCACC. He expressed his willingness to engage with the secretariat, and noted that Adv Jele, who might be retiring, could provide further information. He highlighted the necessity, from a political standpoint and in fulfilling Parliament's duties, of consistent interactions with the NCACC. He observed that the Minister appeared to be the only one present from the ministers involved with the NCACC, suggesting a need for greater attendance from them in the future, especially considering current challenges. He advocated increased attendance by relevant ministers, akin to their interactions with the Department of Defence in the Joint Standing Committee, offering his insights and input on the matter.

Chairperson Xaba acknowledged the points raised, and noted that it was a matter for the new Parliament to address. He mentioned that this was their last meeting in the term, and expressed doubt about having another meeting afterward.

Minister’s remarks

Mr Mondli Gungubele, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to present the annual report of 2023, along with quarter 4. He acknowledged that this was an opportunity for assessment regarding their alignment with existing treaties and conventions and their contribution to the prosperity and stability of the continent and the globe. Such sessions provided a chance for engagement on these critical issues, and he thanked the Chairperson for facilitating it.

Regarding the matter raised by Mr Marais, he deferred to the Chairperson, stating that he had no objections to appearing before committees as required, even quarterly if necessary. He then redirected the focus to Adv Jele, requesting a summary of key highlights from the report and agreeing to address questions subsequently. He concluded by thanking everyone involved.

The Chairperson noted that it was the eve of Good Friday and suggested shortening the meeting, including the presentation, by focusing directly on the essential aspects. He recommended zooming into the core content to save time and avoid unnecessary details.

NCACC's 2024 Quarter Four and Annual Report

Adv Ezra Jele, Head: NCACC Secretariat, indicated a desire to keep the presentation brief, as requested by the Committee, and suggested focusing on slide 13, which outlined the reporting contents as prescribed by the Act. He provided details on the controlled items, exports, imports and conveyances authorised by the NCACC.

Transitioning to the annual report for 2023, he highlighted the number of registrations, marketing payments, contracting payments, permits denied, exports, imports, conveyances and technology exports. He compared these figures to 2022, noting changes in values and countries involved.

Adv Jele then addressed concerns about regulating foreign military assistance, clarifying that the NCACC did not receive applications from individuals serving in foreign military establishments. He also discussed the status of the Regulation of Military Assistance Act and the information technology (IT) system refurbishment project.

He expressed his readiness to answer any questions from the Committee.

Minister Gungubele expressed gratitude to Advocate Jele for his presentation, and for highlighting the key points as advised. He acknowledged the progress made regarding the IT system.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his presentation, noting that it had covered the expected topics. He expressed satisfaction with the Minister's report on the IT system, and discussed the issue of individuals providing assistance to foreign countries, emphasising the importance of adherence to the law in such matters.

(See attached document)


Mr Marais raised concerns about the practical limitations highlighted by Adv Jele, suggesting that if action could not be taken against individuals operating outside the law, then the purpose of legislation became questionable. He sought clarification on the distinction between various types of work conducted in foreign countries, such as security, humanitarian, or medical assistance. He also inquired about the number of applications considered by the NCACC and the approval process, particularly regarding applications from countries with questionable intentions. He also questioned the consequences of the decrease in values between 2022 and 2023, especially in the defence industry, expressing concern about its implications for South Africa's defence capabilities.

He concluded by thanking the Chairperson and wishing Adv Jele well, acknowledging his upcoming retirement. Additionally, he expressed disappointment regarding delays in the implementation of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) system. He raised concerns about infrastructure issues at the Armscor building affecting the work of the NCACC and the Directorate for Conventional Arms Control (DCAC).


Minister Gungubele responded by noting the importance of having evidential material to determine jurisdictional obligations in dealing with matters of concern. He assured the Committee of his commitment to addressing the issues raised, including those related to the state of the ICT system. He concluded by offering to clarify any legal matters raised during the discussion.

Adv Jele addressed the issues raised, beginning with the requirement for evidentiary material to establish violations of the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance (RFMA). He explained that while reporting offences under the RFMA fell under the jurisdiction of the NCACC, obtaining acceptable evidence relied on cooperation from other state organs.

He then discussed the difficulty in verifying claims of individuals seen in foreign military establishments, often relying on videos shared on platforms like TikTok. He highlighted the challenge of geolocating such videos, and emphasised the need for corroborating evidence to prosecute breaches effectively.

Regarding differentiation between the types of work conducted in foreign countries, Adv Jele explained that each application was treated individually, with no specific differentiation based on the nature of the work. He noted that entities responding to disasters were considered early responders, but stressed the importance of identifying and prosecuting those who operate without authorisation.

He also mentioned the designation of certain conflict zones as off-limits for South Africans due to the potential for roles to escalate beyond their initial purpose. He concluded by emphasising the need for a coordinated effort to effectively gather evidence and prosecute violators.

Further discussion

The Chairperson addressed Adv Jele's presentation, noting a lack of awareness regarding any organisation applying to provide humanitarian assistance in a country of armed conflict or a regulated country. He raised concerns about the process of updating the list of regulated countries, and questioned whether the NCACC had presented additional countries for regulation to the Cabinet and received acceptance. He emphasised the importance of clarity on this issue for effective oversight.

Adv Jele elaborated on the challenges posed by the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, and the subsequent amendments meant to address these gaps. He explained that while early responders, such as those assisting in natural disaster relief efforts, did not require prior authorisation, individuals intending to render assistance in countries experiencing armed conflict must apply for permission. However, he clarified that no organisations had applied for such authorisation due to the understanding of the stringent requirements for countries in armed conflict.

Regarding the number of rejected applications, he explained that applications were kept under consideration for a certain period, but if conditions did not improve, the Committee may decide to reject the application. This administrative decision was not made out of malice, but rather to inform the applicant that their permit may no longer be eligible for consideration.

Adv Jele also addressed inspections, noting that both internal and external inspections were conducted annually to ensure compliance with end-user certificates. He said that fluctuations in import rates may be due to input materials being stockpiled for future export purposes.

Regarding the issues with the Armscor building, he said that power failures and other infrastructure issues directly impacted their operations, and emphasised that these factors were often beyond their control.

Minister Gungubele expressed gratitude for the opportunity to address the Committee, especially on the eve of Good Friday, and acknowledged the respect he holds for the Committee. He thanked the Committee for the opportunity to discuss the outstanding tasks.

The Chairperson reciprocated the appreciation, noting the timing of the meeting and allowing everyone an early start to Good Friday. He thanked Adv Jele and the team for their contributions. He then asked about Advocate Jele’s retirement issue.

Adv Jele clarified that although he had reached retirement age, he had not yet considered retiring.

Adoption of Legacy Report

Chairperson Xaba suggested moving on to the next item on the agenda, indicating that the Legacy Report item had been presented before, and asked if any comments arose from that. He commented that Members had seemed satisfied with the report during the previous presentation. He mentioned that the summary of issues captured in the minutes, along with those generated by the Committee, seemed to cover all the relevant matters for the new term. He expressed no objection to moving forward with the adoption of the draft. Finally, he presented the draft for adoption and sought any final comments or objections from colleagues before proceeding.

Mr Marais expressed his appreciation for the work done by the staff, commending them for their excellent work on the report. He noted that the quality of the report and the way it summarised the Committee's work during the term was impressive. He indicated his support for adopting the report.

Following Mr Marais's remarks, another Member seconded the motion to adopt the report.

The report was then duly adopted.

Concluding comments

The Chairperson expressed appreciation for the adoption of the report, and praised the team for their excellent support throughout the term. He acknowledged the efficiency of the Committee Secretary and commended her for producing high-quality minutes, noting that corrections were always minor and timely. He emphasised his commitment to responding promptly to documents received from the Committee Secretariat within 48 hours, to ensure efficiency.

He also highlighted the importance of timely submissions from departments, and noted that while there were challenges, they were never frustrated as a Committee. He appreciated that most issues discussed were within the same domain and were easily followed, even if presented late. He reiterated the Committee's encouragement for departments to adhere to the one-week notice for submissions.

Additionally, appreciation was extended to Dr Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg, Parliamentary Researcher, for his assistance with the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, although the Committee felt well-prepared to handle matters independently. He also acknowledged the challenges in aligning schedules with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) team, but expressed satisfaction with the overall teamwork and no instances of feeling let down by colleagues.

Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) expressed appreciation for Chairperson Xaba's leadership, and acknowledged the significance of the Committee's work under his guidance. He thanked the Chairperson and the Committee Members for their dedication and dedication, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with them. He also expressed appreciation for his fellow EFF Members, and conveyed his hopes for continued success in the future.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Motsamai for his remarks and praised his consistent attendance and commitment to the Committee's work, and also thanked Mr M Nyhontso (PAC) for his contribution to the Committee.

Adoption of minutes

Ms M Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) moved the adoption of the minutes of 7 March, and Ms T Legwase (ANC) seconded.

The minutes were duly adopted.

Closing remarks

Mr Marais said that before the conclusion, he wished to acknowledge the success of the session and term. He thanked the Chairperson for his leadership during this period. He conveyed pride in the progress of the Joint Standing Committee, particularly noting the increased frequency of meetings compared to previous terms. He mentioned his enjoyment of the Committee's work, especially during oversight activities, and expressed hope that the Committee's work would continue seamlessly into the next Parliament. He expressed his pride in the Committee's achievements, noting positive feedback received from industry contacts. He concluded by expressing a desire to reconvene in the future, and offered assistance in case of emergencies.

The Chairperson assured Mr Marais that a meeting would be convened in the case of an emergency, as they were scheduled to continue until 21 May.

Ms Bartlett also conveyed her appreciation, acknowledging the Chairperson’s leadership, despite the challenges faced. She commended his guidance through difficult situations.

The Chairperson thanked his colleagues for their kind words, stating that it had been a wonderful period together. He extended his well wishes to everyone for their election campaign activities.

The meeting was adjourned.


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