Defence minister's reply 'ludicrous': DA

By Drum Digital
21 August 2013

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula's refusal to disclose any information about new arms deals is "ludicrous", the DA said on Wednesday.

"The minister has refused point-blank to disclose any information about the project names, items being acquired, or budgets for the armaments acquisition programme," Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said in a statement.

Earlier, in a written reply to a parliamentary question posed by the DA, Mapisa-Nqakula said "all information requested in terms of the strategic capital acquisition master plan is considered and handled as confidential".

Further, all project financial information was confidential and not "open to the public domain", she said.

Maynier said her department's own white paper on national defence required it to publish an annual acquisition master plan and a medium-to-long-term defence requirements statement.

"Moreover, the department has in the past replied to parliamentary questions about the armaments acquisition programmes being implemented under the strategic capital acquisition master plan."

He said what made the minister's reply "especially ludicrous" was the fact that a considerable amount of information on her department's various capital acquisition programmes could easily be found on-line, on Google.

This included information on "Project Hoefyster", involving new infantry fighting vehicles for the SA Army; "Project Saucepan", on new maritime patrol aircraft for the SA Airforce; and, "Project Biro", involving the purchase of offshore patrol vessels for the SA Navy.

"It is inexplicable that the minister will not disclose information about armaments acquisition, much of which is already in the public domain. It is symptomatic of the new paranoia spreading like an oil slick in government under President Jacob Zuma," Maynier claimed.


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