Publication: Business Report Issued: Date: 2004-06-30 Reporter: Lynda Loxton

Defence Ministry Tightens Laws



Business Report

Date 2004-06-30


Lynda Loxton

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Cape Town - The defence ministry was tightening up legislation covering foreign military assistance, arms procurement and the running of local defence industries to root out shady and corrupt practices, Mluleki George, the deputy minister, said yesterday.

Speaking during the debate in the national council of provinces on the defence department's 2004\05 budget, George said foreign military assistance had to be reviewed to "tighten up legislation relating to involvement in dubious foreign military activities".

In the much-debated area of defence procurement, all the recommendations of the joint investigation into the controversial strategic defence packages had been reviewed but other measures were being put in place to ensure greater accountability.

Armscor was being transformed so that its role and responsibilities "primarily as a procurement agency must be vividly distinct from Denel, the manufacturing arm of the state", George said.

Discussions were already under way with the department of public enterprises, under which Denel fell, to ensure the closest possible co-ordination of activities.

Armscor's internal and administrative activities were also being reviewed to ensure that it "conducts itself to standards of which this country can be proud.

"We do not subscribe to the perception that the arms industry is one that is shady and riddled with corrupt practices," George said.

"Democratic South Africa has constantly endeavoured to carry out its defence business transparently. And we will be at the forefront of the fight to maintain clean practices in relation to the defence industry at home and abroad."

The white paper on defence-related industries was being reviewed to ensure the participation of the industry and civil society.

"The result will be a comprehensive rather than a fragmented approach," George said.

With acknowledgements to Lynda Loxton and the Business Report.