Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2004-06-02 Reporter: Tisha Steyn

Lekota Moots Arms Industry




Date 2004-06-02


Tisha Steyn

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Cape Town - South Africa's Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota has mooted a white paper on defence-related industries falling under the State's aegis.

Speaking to the national assembly defence portfolio ad hoc committee on Tuesday, he noted that the defence-related industries - such as Denel - were inherited from the old order, but he believed they needed to be maintained.

He told members of parliament that there was "no overall comprehensive policy" on defence-related industries. "We need to look at whether a white paper should be developed to guide us how to deal with these defence related industries."

Lekota noted that poor countries could not afford to buy military hardware from the developed world and spend foreign exchange, hinting that the South African industry could fill this gap.

He also hinted at a change in defence force policy on representivity, which has favoured the employment of African black people. Lekota said that there was now a difficulty in recruiting whites.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Rafeek Shah welcomed the change in stance by the minister. Shah said the DA had raised this question after the inspector general had proposed in August 2002 the end to the promotion of white officers in certain ranks.

He noted the twist of suggesting that to prevent them leaving the South African National Defence Force they be given higher pay than African officers.

The report also recommended that Africans be excluded from entry-level positions, because whites were under-represented in the lower ranks.

"This is a case of affirmative action being perverted. The obsession with demographic representivity, intended to benefit African soldiers, ends up denying them opportunities," said Shah.

With acknowledgements to Tisha Steyn and News24.