Military needed updating - Kasrils

2014-06-07 05:00

Pretoria - Apartheid-era military equipment was outdated and the newly formed SA National Defence Force needed renewal, former deputy defence minister Ronnie Kasrils told the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on Friday.

The 1999 acquisition of military equipment was a small package, former deputy defence minister Ronnie Kasrils told the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on Friday.

"I hope Terry Crawford-Browne and others don't misunderstand me - this was quite a small package. We are talking about equipping an army, a new defence force," Kasrils said in Pretoria.

"Other defence forces buy hundreds of planes and scores and scores of ships. We wanted to serve our people foremost. We couldn't finance it on the defence [department] budget which was too small."

Kasrils was deputy defence minister from June 1994 to June 1999, and intelligence minister from June 1999 to September 2008.

He was led in submitting evidence at the inquiry by the commission's evidence leader Simmy Lebala.

Lebala asked Kasrils to explain whether there were financial concerns about the affordability of the strategic defence procurement package.

Kasrils responded: "I had great confidence in [former] President Mandela who had been on record in a state of the nation speech to make it clear that his government was behind this whole project.

"I had great confidence in our Cabinet. The minister of finance [Trevor Manuel] was very careful and he raised certain questions but basically he was behind this project. It looked like government could find ways to arrange the finances for the package."

Kasrils said there was "big debate" in the country, particularly in government on how the state would manage such an acquisition.

Kasrils said envisaged spin-offs were realised from the project.

"In terms of benefits to the economy and industry, the possibilities were there and materialised for doing very positive government to government deals," he said.

"That's how the government moved in a positive spirit."

Kasrils said equipment inherited from the apartheid era was outdated and the newly formed SA National Defence Force needed revitalisation.

"The transformation of the defence force required the introduction of new equipment since the boycott and sanctions against the apartheid regime had left the armed forces with obsolete equipment," Kasrils said in Pretoria.

He said the navy weaponry was virtually obsolete.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand deal.

Government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.

Next week, Kasrils will continue giving evidence on Tuesday.

On Monday, Jayendra Naidoo - the government's chief negotiator in the arms deal - is scheduled to appear.

Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota is listed to testify after Kasrils.

  • Gary Goddard - 2014-06-07 06:20

    Outdated....? We sold, IIRC, 12 of the SAAF's Cheetahs C aircraft to Ecuador who have been using constantly since the sale. There was nothing outdated about them at all - just the stupid dumb ass cANCer wanting to thank and pay back their international supporters from way back by buying Gripens.....pity we don't have enough pilots, fuel, trained crew etc to actually keep them operational.

      michael.tetley.35 - 2014-06-07 07:43

      Chile, which has a top notch airforce also bought some of the cheetahs. Arms deal was a pocket lining exercise for connected cadres.

      Nico de Jongh - 2014-06-07 11:06

      Ronnie want in on next deal , he now knows no one gets busted.

  • Fritz Louw - 2014-06-07 06:24

    And don’t forget that Armscor and African Defence Systems (ADS) are also guilty of other fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money in addition to their abhorrent roles they played during the corrupt and scandalous arms deal. These criminal, disgraceful and fundamentally corrupt organisations are both a shame for South Africa – in the past, now and it looks like in the future as well. The reader may also Google: “Fritz Louw” Armscor; “Fritz Louw” African Defence Systems; “Fritz Louw” whistling in the wind; “Fritz Louw” Taljaard release SAS Mendi. Heibrin Venter: “Blow it out of your ear. You post the same cr*p over and over. Did Armscor or ADS fire you at some stage?? Regardless of what they became post '94, Armscor was SA's saviour pre-'94, and was a highly respected, innovative arms manufacturer”. Yes, they did fire me shamelessly because I started to reveal serious irregularities (in fact fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money) of which at the end I was proved to be correct. Amen. On Friday 30 July 1999 I made these massive criminalities committed by both Armscor and ADS known to inter alia Chippy Shaik, the then Chief of Acquisitions of SANDF, in a 2 page statement: Please Google: MyNews24 Letter to Chippy Shaik 20131021. This was of course a grave mistake on my side because I did not know that Shaik was in bed with ADS all along. The following Monday a tragic and colossal cover-up exercise by both ADS and Armscor was started and that lasted for several months. All on record.

      Thobile Lugwadu - 2014-06-07 07:26

      I wish i can be your friend and work with you and recruit more people who have been victims of corporate greed. Much as we talk of corruption in government the private sector is the worst.,just that its thieves are smarter.

  • arthur.salvado - 2014-06-07 07:31

    Update our military ? Yes.but then no one to operate the updated submarines, planes and no one to maintain it. Go on, it was just a pocket Inning exercise worth BILLIONS.

  • Hauke Liefferink - 2014-06-07 07:39

    Operational Bare Minimum or OBM as it is known if you are sharp. Anything beyond that is a waste and simply an OFG (Opportunity For Graft). If you've been in the army you'll the know this lingo. Aye Aye Captain...I can't hear you...

  • johan.steyn.1447 - 2014-06-07 07:54

    Military expenses are a plague to the nation tax wise. Specially if you fight far from home like Central Africa that has nothing to do with us. Stop wasting money. Uplift your people. Don't over tax them

  • johan.steyn.1447 - 2014-06-07 08:00

    Go to any military base in SA. I went to Tempe in Bloem a while ago. They can not even maintain a pre-fab building with some paint and windows, not mentioning armor or weapons. The problem is the top Brass, then look at what is needed for the enemy..... If you can find one.. Hahahaaa

  • Jean Steyn - 2014-06-07 08:07

    You used the bribes from the arms deal to provide pension to your ANC buddies, nothing more. The military equipment you bought wasn't suited for this country's geographical location or perceived military threat. The ANC government consists mostly of liers and thieves.

  • Johan van Papendorp - 2014-06-07 08:12

    Many valid points raised in comments, but lets not lose focus. The people of this country are primarily interested in corruption associated with the deal, not the need for the deal itself. The investigation is off target. There is a tremendous amount of smoke being generated by many of those giving evidence. Still trying to hide something? Get back on track!

  • Brett Momberg - 2014-06-07 08:23

    Ronnie, you are correct, however you have systematically removed the mechanisms that made the SADF in the 70's / 80's a true defence force. you and your cronies got rid of elite units , gave out golden hand shakes to very qualified officers and nco's and then put unskilled people in jobs in the current SADF, in old out dated equipment, most of the new equipment your government procured is not ready for "action". The defence force is a place where unemployment can be improved, buy the equipment, train the members, be proud of what we had and could still have............ if we have not used up all the cash on the greedy politicians and their mates. We will remember them.

  • jonas.Bnet - 2014-06-07 08:35

    What makes one think the old defense force was good, didn't they get booted out if Angola by a rag tag bunch if Cubans. Where have they ever excelled world war 1 ? All captured at Tobruk world war 2? Where have they earned this reputation? False white pride is what it is

      John Greystoke - 2014-06-08 20:05

      You need to educate yourself a little bit about the South African Defense Force through the ages!

  • Kevin Muller - 2014-06-07 08:35

    No, Ronnie you clown, the people need food, education and housing. After fixing that and getting rid of the rest of the corrupt clowns in the African National Circus then by all means re evaluate the military. Until then you are welcome to go to hell

  • Mike Lowry - 2014-06-07 08:40

    The apartheid Government may well have had outdated equipment but firstly, after the demise of the Nationalist Government the threat diminished and now with all the new equipment we have no effective army to utilize it. Three submarines that have never been used other than to damage them when put into operations. And military equipment becomes outdated faster than electronic equipment. All that expenditure was for the benefits received by the people involved - handouts and bribes!!

  • Anthony Rees - 2014-06-07 08:44

    What about the new arms package in the making? The German tanks, bio weapons etc?

  • David Luis - 2014-06-07 08:58

    yeah right, a disciplined, fit, well trained, organized force that maintains its equipment needed to be transformed to the shambles it is today.... sure

  • Gail Hayes-Bean - 2014-06-07 09:00

    While I realise that this commission is supposed to be about the corruption around the arms deal as a citizen and voter I would like to know why we actually needed to update etc our military at all with these expensive pieces of weaponry when essentially we were not being threatened by any African or other forces? To me it seems that spending money on the military was a totally unnecessary expense from the get go and that the monies spent on new equipment from which not one single disadvantaged person would benefit was an outrageous expenditure whether corruption took place or not. Imagine if all the money spent on military equipment had been used to build schools and reskill people as teachers etc how much better off this country would be? Okay so if you are unhappy with education then why not improve healthcare facilities for all the people since South Africa was at the time facing a huge health problem because of AIDS and TB etc. OR use the monies that were used to inculcate values through training the formerly dispossessed masses in vital areas too many to mention by using the skilled people already in the country and keeping the nation ticking over so that those who were best suited to any particular field passed their skills on to the future generations. The education department was the first casualty since all the skilled people were more than willing to take packages and get the hell out before they were told how to do their jobs by uneducated politicians/ex military.

  • Denton Estment - 2014-06-07 09:00

    Agreed equipment was required. We did not need Zuma, Shabir and Chippie Shaik and others to benefit financially from this and they should be made to answer and pay back.

  • Geoffrey Bruce - 2014-06-07 09:03

    The enemies and weapons of war tomorrow are unseen except for the shocking results. Defence should skill up on cyber technology and hidden attacks that undermine economies, steal defence strategies and change minds. Once it was anarchists, now its propaganda and programmers we should be watching out for. Big Brother may live in a far distant country.

  • James Wadsworth - 2014-06-07 09:45

    Then let's summarise this: Submarines, what on earth for and what is the current status after one was fried, another driven into the sea bed. Interesting, we bought something, but could be maintain these, hell no, could we drive these, hell no. Grippens... Is it of any interest, that a military airport in the north, has a few that are still working, the others are being stripped for parts. Hmmm, maintenance is an expensive thing, it is disgusting when you strip another plane just for the parts. Do we have enough pilots, now that is a good question.

  • Phelamanga - 2014-06-08 07:59

    That money could have been used to develop our own arms industry and thereby provide thousands of jobs, and the money would have stayed in the country. However, once the money leaves our shores it becomes difficult to trace and eventually lands up in the pockets of corrupt politicians or in front companies linked to political parties. Today, the people are much poorer because this waste of money has not created employment. Nor has it created training institutions to train artisans, engineers and soldiers who could have ensured that our arm industry and allied industry could grow.

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