Cape Town Defence and Military Veterans Minister
Lindiwe Sisulu has pulled the plug on defence
industry sponsorship, by ordering that the Department of Defence
not accept such gestures anymore.
The sponsorships were from the defence industry to foot the bill
for a meeting of the Military Command Council at a luxury
KwaZulu-Natal north coast golf estate in exchange for access to
senior defence staff.
This follows revelations last week that the Aerospace, Maritime
and Defence Industries Association, at the behest of the
department, had called on members to sponsor the week at the
Zimbali Golf Estate for at least R20 000 each.
This raised fears of a conflict of interest between military
decision makers and the companies potentially in line to supply
military hardware to the South African National Defence Force.
Adding to disquiet over the issue was that defence secretary
Mpumi Mpofu organised a parallel meeting of the Defence
Secretariat Council over the same period at the same venue,
resulting in a second request for another R100 000 sponsorship
from the defence industry.
A statement by the department said Ms Sisulu had given
instructions that the department “should not accept sponsorship
from the defence industry for the session”.
“The minister wishes to acknowledge the industry for their
support, but felt it inappropriate for the department to accept
Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier said Ms
Sisulu “should be complimented” for stopping “sponsorships from
the defence industry for the senior military leadership’s ‘work
session’ at the ultra-luxury Zimbali Lodge”.
“However, what still needs to be explained is why the defence
department did a U-turn on the ‘cash for access’ scandal.”
“The defence department said that sponsorships were a ‘norm
across the public and private sector’,” Mr Maynier said.
The defence ministry then said that it was “inappropriate for
the department to accept the gesture”.
“The defence department clearly does not get it. The real
question here is whether the generals should be conducting a
work session at one of the most luxury lodges in our country
when ordinary soldiers’ service conditions are so appalling that
the interim national defence force service commission is
concerned that the morale of soldiers could pose a threat to the
security of the state,” Mr Maynier said.
“The ‘cash for access’ scandal also raises some very serious
questions about the judgment of the senior military leadership.
We cannot have a situation where the generals are meeting at
luxury lodges when ordinary soldiers live in squalor in their
barracks. This seems to me to be a complete failure of judgment
on the part of the senior military leadership,” Mr Maynier said.
He said that Ms Sisulu “should go further and cancel the work
session at Zimbali Lodge”.
With acknowledgements to
Wyndham Hartley and Business Day.