South Africa’s Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Defence has affirmed that the government should give the country’s defence industry the support it needed to ensure its sustainability. The committee did so in a statement released on Friday, in which it reported that it had received the ‘controlled item transfers’ reports, covering both defence imports and exports, for the second, third and fourth quarters of this year.
“The committee noted that the impediments to exports that are creating a backlog of R3.5-billion in orders, especially from the Gulf region, is receiving the attention of senior government authorities,” it said in the statement. “The growth and strength of the South African defence industry is dependent on receiving and satisfying orders that will play a critical role in growing the economy and creating much-needed job opportunities.”
However, the country’s defence exports had to comply with national legislation, international obligations and address proliferation concerns. It was necessary to maintain a balance between these issues and the preservation of defence industry jobs in the country.
Ensuring that South Africa adhered to the strict international guidelines governing the arms trade was the function of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). The committee, in its statement, also welcomed the news that the NCACC was “almost fully” constituted and had met on all scheduled occasions. “But the committee has called for the appointment of a representative from the State Security Agency to fully constitute the committee, which will enable it to discharge its mandate.”
The committee also called for better liaison between the stakeholders in the NCACC to make certain that impediments to, and backlogs in, the representative approval process were eliminated. The committee was informed that switching the application and approval procedures from manual to electronic processes would solve these problems. The parliamentarians consequently urged that the necessary information technology project be completed, “to ensure agility within the process and enable adherence to contract deadlines”.
“Meanwhile, the committee has welcomed the achievement of a clean bill of health for the Secretariat of the NCACC, which bodes well for governance,” it concluded.
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