Presidency tight-lipped on report that Zuma opened Saudi weapons factory

2016-04-13 15:33
President Jacob Zuma (File, GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (File, GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The Presidency has failed to confirm or deny an international media report which alleges that President Jacob Zuma and his Saudi Arabian counterpart officially opened a joint weapons factory during his visit there last month.

The report, published on the website Defense News, said South Africa's military equipment manufacturer Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) and Saudi Military Industries Corporation (Samic) had joined forces in the factory venture.

"According to the Saudi Press Agency, the facility, which is in the Al-Kharj military industrial complex south of Riyadh, was officially opened by South African President Jacob Zuma and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during his state visit to the kingdom last week," the article, dated April 6, 2016, read.

The factory was reportedly expected to produce mortars, artillery shells and aircraft-borne bombs, weighing up to 907kg, which would mainly be mainly used by the Saudi defence forces.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the weapons produced would be exported.

News24 approached Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola for comment on the report.

Majola referred News24 to a media release in which the Presidency simply stated that relations between South Africa and Saudi Arabia had received a significant boost following Zuma's visit.

"In addition, the two countries agreed to work to ensure closer bilateral intelligence co-operation, in particular in relation to the regional terrorism threat to domestic and regional security and stability," the statement read.

Majola did not reply to News24's further questions on the report. Questions were first sent to Majola on Friday, April 8, and he had still not responded by Wednesday, April 13.

Meanwhile, the SA National Defence Force said it could not provide any clarity on the report and referred all questions to the office of the president.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  saudi arabia

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