Denel company logo in Pretoria. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Denel company logo in Pretoria. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Denel’s recent claim that it has a good chance of winning a $2bn contract — the largest in its history — should be treated as wishful thinking, hot air in its vain attempt to avoid liquidation.

You report that Denel “said it foresaw about R30bn in deals over the next two years” and that its presentation in parliament referred to the Egyptian navy and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (“Denel to exit some businesses within months”, September 6.)

Just how many times over the years has Denel duped parliamentarians and the country with similar claims about major export prospects for its rooivalk helicopter disaster? Not only is such a deal with the Egyptian navy highly unlikely, but it would fall foul of the National Conventional Arms Control Act (NCACA).

This legislation stipulates that SA will not export armaments to countries that abuse human rights, countries and/or regions in conflict, or countries subject to UN and other international arms embargoes.

The gross abuses of human rights in Egypt under its military dictator, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, have been extensively documented, and the Middle East is engulfed by numerous conflicts. The reality is that the NCACA committee has, since inception, closed its eyes to this provision, and that SA has been complicit in supplying Saudi Arabia and the UAE with munitions used to commit war crimes in Yemen.

The outgoing CEO of Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) complained last week that SA’s entire armaments industry has been in limbo since a new NCACA committee was appointed in early 2019. He specifically revealed that RDM is being blocked from exporting to the Middle East, which accounts for 60% of its exports, Saudi Arabia and UAE being its biggest customers.

Denel and SA’s war business — let’s drop the “defence” euphemism — is dependent on supplying the world’s most unsavoury regimes. It is an industry that has been mired in one corruption scandal after another for the past 25 years. 

If President Cyril Ramaphosa is serious about cleaning up our country’s appalling reputation for violence and corruption, Denel and other arms companies must be put out of business as a matter of urgency.

Terry Crawford-Browne
World Beyond War SA