Report red-flags flaws at arms directorate

2011-06-25 18:14

A leaked arms industry report has red-flagged serious flaws in ­government’s conventional arms sales regulatory body.

The confidential document – drafted by the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries ­Association (AMD), which represents the interests of 47 leading arms companies and parastatals – identifies major flaws in the ­operations of the Directorate of Conventional Arms Control (DCAC).

These include:»?Errors on permits issued by the directorate relating to descriptions and model numbers of ­materiel, the names of countries arms are being exported to and the dates for which permits are valid;»?Permits being “issued to the wrong companies”;»?Permit applications being ­“misplaced”;»?The directorate’s failure to take responsibility for mistakes;»?A lack of “specialised” ­personnel;»?The directorate’s “obsolete” computer system and fears that it could crash; and»?The directorate’s “retaliation” when arms companies complain.

The document was leaked to City Press in the wake of our ­disclosures last week that South African-made sniper rifles are ­being used in Libya’s civil war.

It also says that Pretoria has failed to implement the ­Wassenaar Arrangement – intended to promote transparency and responsibility in transfers of conventional arms – on export ­controls for conventional arms. The association presented the survey’s findings to the directorate on June 14 and another meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.

The directorate serves as the secretariat for South Africa’s ­National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), a statutory body chaired by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe that comprises other Cabinet members.

The NCACC has come under fire in recent weeks over South ­African arms sales to repressive regimes such as Yemen, Syria, ­Algeria and Colombia.

Last week, City Press revealed video evidence proving that sniper rifles manufactured by South African arms company Truvelo were being used by forces loyal to embattled Libyan dictator ­Muammar Gaddafi. The committee has repeatedly stonewalled questions on this matter.

After discovering City Press had seen a leaked copy of the survey, AMD executive director ­Simphiwe Hamilton claimed this week it was “not a final/cleared ­report due to fundamental errors and flaws” that were identified ­after it was “circulated to some members of the association”.

Hamilton said the directorate had, on three occasions this month, raised concerns about the ­manner in which the survey was being conducted and AMD ­“acknowledged that there were indeed flaws in our processes that rendered our findings incomplete and of no standing”.

But Hamilton conceded that the 23 respondents in the survey comprised the “major players” in the arms industry. Radebe’s spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, said the directorate had found the survey “objectionable” due to “fundamental flaws” in the manner in which the survey was conducted by AMD.

Tlali conceded that the ­directorate did face “capacity challenges in certain areas and that there is room for improvement”. ­

However, he said that the directorate remained effective.

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