No reason why SA should stop selling arms to Turkey - Mapisa-Nqakula

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Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • The are no barriers blocking arms trade between SA and Turkey, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.
  • Questions are being raised about whether SA arms exported to Turkey will end up in war-torn countries like Libya.
  • Mapisa-Nqakula said, for now, trade with Turkey continues.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said nothing prevents South Africa from exporting arms to Turkey, despite reports that it might be used in conflicts in countries like Libya.

Mapisa-Nqakula answered questions during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday around government's arms and military trade with Turkey.

Mapisa-Nqakula told MPs the government carefully considers any request for arms or military equipment.

"There is always careful analysis and consideration before granting any approval. If the arms sent to Turkey are likely to be used within Africa…I don't want to make any prediction. But if there is information, let's talk about it when it happens," she said.

Last week News24 reported the government had quashed rumours regarding the export of weapons and military hardware to Turkey, which could possibly end up in the hands of militia groups fighting in the Libyan civil war. 

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) chairperson and Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the matter was raised with them.

Sale of weapons

The NCACC was questioned, during a parliamentary meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, about reports that military hardware had been exported to Turkey in May and could possibly end up in the north African nation.

Mthembu told the committee the sale and use of military weapons are guided by international protocol and South African regulations.

Al Jazeera reported that France's president, Emmanuel Macron, has accused Turkey of importing large numbers of fighters into Libya, calling the intervention criminal. 

According to domestic regulations, military hardware may not be sold to countries involved in conflicts.

DA MP Hildegard Boshoff asked Mapisa-Nqakula if she is aware that Turkey supplies weapons to groups involved in the Syrian conflict.

"Are you therefore in support of a blanket embargo on the sale of weapons to Turkey on the basis of protecting human rights," Boshoff asked.

Mapisa-Nqakula replied: "I am not supporting a blanket embargo. Before we grant any export permit for arms, we look at the political situation in a country. We receive information of the geopolitics of the area and whether in fact the decision (to export arms) is likely to compromise that country," she said.

"For now, we took the decision at the NCACC, we agreed that there should be no reason why we should not sell arms to Turkey."

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