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Armscor is responsible for the maintenance contracts of our defence force however recently it has been embroiled in controversies, which have led to the decline of our military and defence capabilities. Their primary task is to act as the procurement agent for the needs and requirements of the SANDF, and among others to assure that maintenance contracts are renewed, in time to never have the situation we are experiencing the last years of the dilapidated SANDF prime mission equipment.
Earlier in the year we became aware, contrary to what was reported to the parliamentary defence oversight committees, that maintenance contracts for our primary fixed-wing fleet (including all the Gripens, Hawks, Pilatus, etc.) have not been concluded and is still not the case. It has been reported that the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, has started an investigation into the conduct and behaviour of both the Armscor Board Chairman, Dr Phillip Dexter, and CEO, Adv Solomzi Mbada.
New reports suggest that more fixed-wing squadrons, e.g. 41 and 21 squadrons, are paralysed because maintenance contracts have not been concluded. This situation is unacceptable but unfortunately has been prevalent like a golden thread through every division and sector of the SANDF.
Instead of dealing with the issue at hand, senior Armscor officials with their secretaries and personal assistants have been in Russia gallivanting to many overseas destinations, officially on business development trips. What business opportunities can they foster in Russia, given that our industry is based on NATO and not Russian/East Block standards, and that we have an urgent need to get our current fleets of aircraft, naval vessels and landward equipment fully serviceable and operational?
The Minister, like the Armscor top management, should focus their attention and priorities to get our defence force working again and get our prime mission equipment at a minimum accepted standard of operationally, serviceability and defence readiness.
It is unacceptable that the Minister, her senior officials and Armscor top management (and their support staff) are spending too much money by travelling locally and abroad, (a cost national treasury is of the opinion can, must and should be reduced significantly). It seems the political and management will, is lacking to make important decisions to address the real challenges and deficiencies, to improve our dire defence capabilities and readiness urgently. Both the Minister, Department of Defence and Armscor should forget about the ANC’s failed policies and priorities, and focus on doing what is necessary to improve the operations of Armscor and the capabilities of our Defence Force. If not, they will all be accomplices to letting down our defence force capabilities, our nation’s safety and security and our constitution.
I will be submitting various parliamentary questions to get answers and write to the minister to raise these concerns again and call on her to act urgently and decisively within her powers to bring to book those culprits who undermine our defence capabilities and to call those back home who are still gallivanting abroad on the taxpayers’ account. “Rome is burning” and all hands must be on deck to restore our dilapidated defence capabilities urgently.
Issued by Kobus Marais MP - DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans