Gordhan denies plans to sell Denel stake to Saudi Arabia

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has denied speculation that South Africa plans to sell shares in state-owned arms company Denel to Saudi Arabia.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Narend Singh asked the minister of public enterprises in a Parliamentary question about SA’s relationship with Saudi Arabia in relation to the latter’s human rights track record, Denel’s sale of arms to the Saudi government, and reports that the Saudis were interested in acquiring a stake in the arms manufacturer.

"In light of the government’s commitment and undertaking not to sell weaponry to countries which perpetrate or perpetuate war crimes, human rights abuses and violations, what are the reasons that the Republic, through its own state-owned enterprise, Denel, continues to be an armaments partner supplying weaponry to Saudi Arabia?" he asked. 

Singh also wanted to know whether the government was considering selling Denel to Saudi Arabia, and whether he could see a detailed bid from that country.

Saudi Arabia has been fighting in Yemen since 2015. According to Amnesty International all sides in the war have carried out war crimes, with the Saudi-led coalition bombing civilian infrastructure and carrying out "indiscriminate attacks, killing and injuring civilians". 

While Gordhan said additional information would have to be sought from Denel around the reasons it sells arms to Saudi Arabia, there were no plans to sell shares in Denel to the Saudis.

"There is no proposal from the country in question under consideration. Should government decide to reduce or relinquish its shareholding in any state-owned company under the authority of the Department of Public Enterprises, this will be done through a transparent, public process," Gordhan said.

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