Cape Town - ANC MPs who stayed behind when the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance walked out during a parliamentary committee meeting seemed convinced that there was nothing untoward about state-owned entity Denel's controversial venture with VR Laser Asia.
During a parliamentary briefing of the public enterprises committees of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces on Wednesday, Denel’s board chairperson, acting CEO and acting financial executive officer insisted that Denel had followed the correct procedures in establishing a deal with VR Laser Asia.
Before the presentation started, members of the DA and EFF staged a walkout when committee chairperson Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba refused to reschedule the meeting.
Opposition parties wanted the meeting moved to the end of September to allow Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to be present so they could get a full account of the controversial deal.
Letsatsi-Duba however ruled that Denel go ahead with its briefing.
In its presentation, Denel’s acting chief financial officer Odwa Mhlwana said National Treasury and the department of public enterprises had been informed of the intended deal as early as October last year. “[The parties involved] knew the matter was urgent and in subsequent meetings there were no objections.”
Mhlwana indicated that Denel decided to go ahead with the deal on January 29 this year, as it did not have “a single communication” from National Treasury about the intended deal.
“At that point it was 47 days since our formal application (to have the deal authorised) and 91 days from our initial submission. But there was no comment. No ‘give us more time or information’ – nothing.”
In February, shortly after the establishment of the joint venture, National Treasury objected to Denel’s deal with VR Laser Asia, arguing that it was in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Legislation requires a state-owned company to hand in a Section 54 application if it wants to enter into a joint venture, which Denel has not done.