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Defence|Denel|Export|Industrial|Manufacturing|Resources|Road|Service|Systems|Training|Equipment|Manufacturing |Operations
Defence|Denel|Export|Industrial|Manufacturing|Resources|Road|Service|Systems|Training|Equipment|Manufacturing |Operations
defence|denel|export|industrial|manufacturing|resources|road|service|systems|training|equipment|manufacturing-industry-term|operations

Defence Minister warns about crisis in local defence industry, especially Denel

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

4th June 2021

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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In her address to the National Assembly late last month, introducing the debate for her 2021 Budget Vote, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned the assembled Parliamentarians that defence cuts were endangering the country’s defence industry. State-owned defence industrial group Denel was in particular danger.

“If we are honest with ourselves, we now face the reality that if we do not intervene in a decisive manner, we will lose our State-owned defence industrial base and the ability to repair, maintain and overhaul most of our defence systems,” she highlighted. “This not only compromises our ability to maintain our current equipment in service, but also fundamentally impacts our longer-term ability to remain relevant and ready to conduct effective operations in the future. Should this happen, we may well find ourselves reliant on foreign powers for our main equipment and this will come at great strategic expense.”

Nor was this all. The defence industry contributed to local scientific and technological development, the country’s manufacturing base, export revenues, education and training, employment and overall economic development. In all these areas, defence cuts had had “dire consequences”, she affirmed. Yet the defence industry had been identified, in the Presidential Public Private Growth Initiative, as a sector that had considerable potential to help drive economic growth in the country.

“In addition, the ability to maintain main equipment for operations has declined to the point where we need to ask if it is in fact viable to continue to throw resources at them,” she reported. “This, coupled with the demise of the defence industry and in particular Denel, has placed us in a very precarious position. Our defence capabilities are heavily reliant on [the] defence industry and in particular Denel.”

She praised the country’s defence acquisitions and disposals and research and development agency Armscor, which also runs several specialised defence facilities, for its efforts in turning around the Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard (not to be confused with the co-located but separate Naval Base Simon’s Town). But “we are nonetheless finding it difficult to maintain our fleet against the ‘float, sail and fight’ concept of combat readiness.”

Regarding the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), she emphasised its role in helping contain the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our uniform[ed] members and civilian counterparts were asked to put their lives on the line to support the efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.” SANDF members contracted Covid-19 and there were fatalities as a result. As part of its operations to support other government departments in countering the pandemic, the SANDF deployed 8 119 personnel (regulars, reservists and auxiliaries) and conducted 35 000 patrols, as well as 12 452 road blocks and 7 800 vehicle checkpoints.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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