Publication: Sunday Independent Issued: Date: 2004-07-18 Reporter: Terry CrawfordBrowne

Armscor a Malign Influence That Must Go



Sunday Independent

Date 2004-07-18


Terry Crawford-Browne

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"A Riddle Inside an Enigma" (The Sunday Independent, July 11) understates the malign and evil influence that is Armscor.

The late Oliver Tambo describes Armscor as "a Frankenstein monster that cannot be reformed, and must be destroyed".

Journalist Ken Owen once noted that apartheid might, ironically, have lasted another 50 years except that the militarists at Armscor bankrupted the country.

Armscor was caught red-handed, within months of our transition to democracy, peddling AK-47s to Croatia via Yemen. The weapons had been imported from China for distribution to Renamo in Mozambique and Unita in Angola as part of the apartheid government's destabilisation programme of neighbouring states. The Cameron commission judged Armscor to be ridden with both corruption and mismanagement.

The arms deal scandal that continues to plague post-apartheid South Africa is the direct consequence of Armscor's nonsensical proposition that R30 billion spent on armaments would generate offsets of R110 billion to create 64165 jobs. Former chairperson Ron Haywood loudly trumpeted the arms deal as Madiba magic : "Spend R1 on armaments, and get R4 back - what businessman can turn down such a deal!"

Our ANC government should have listened to Tambo instead of becoming mired in the corrupt and dirty business that is the armaments industry. The ghosts that inhabit Armscor's headquarters will only be laid to rest once that monstrosity is demolished, and Armscor disbanded.

With acknowledgements to Terry Crawford-Browne and the Sunday Independent.