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SA confirms joint military venture with Saudis

The Presidency has confirmed that South Africa is involved in a joint military venture with Saudia Arabia.

It has also confirmed that President Jacob Zuma attended the opening of a military facility during his recent visit to the kingdom.

“The Presidency wishes to confirm that during a State Visit by President Jacob Zuma to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‚ President Zuma and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman‚ who is also the Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia‚ undertook a tour of the Military Industries Corporation facilities‚ operated by Rheinmetall Denel Munition‚ in which South Africa’s Denel holds a 49% stake‚” said Presidency spokesman Bongani Majola..

He said the visit sought to promote South Africa’s defence military industry and strengthen areas of cooperation in the field of defence procurement partnership between South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

“During the visit‚ the President and the Crown Prince symbolically unveiled a plaque of the military facility‚ met with and took photographs with personnel and senior management of the Rheinmetall Denel Munition and the South African staff who are bringing expertise to the military factory.

“The visit to the facilities was open to the media‚” Majola added.

On Friday the Democratic Alliance (DA) accused the president and defence minister of going “under the radar” and unveiling a military industrial complex in Saudi Arabia last month.

The party said on Friday that it would push Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula “to make a ministerial statement…addressing allegations that South Africa has partnered with Saudi Arabia in the production of weapons and armaments in an offshore joint venture which saw the opening of a new military industrial complex”.

Specific questions the party would ask include:

- “Why was Treasury nor Parliament advised on a new arms merger between South Africa’s Denel and Saudi Military Industries Corporation?

- “Which countries will use these arms besides Saudi Arabia‚ if exported‚ which countries will they be exported to?; and

- “Why was the South African National Defence Force not notified nor consulted for recommendations?”

“The secrecy with which President Jacob Zuma and Minister Mapisa-Nqakula visited Saudi Arabia is concerning and is starting to ring bells similar to that of the 1999 Arms Deal‚” said the party’s defence spokesperson‚ Kobus Marais.

“Parliament cannot allow history to repeat itself and must satisfy itself that ordinary taxpayers money is not being being pilfered to fund dodgey arms deals in discord with South Africa’s non-violent human rights-based foreign policy.”

He said the Saudi News Agency reported that “military industrial complex will produce mortars‚ artillery shells and aircraft-borne bombs‚ which would mainly be mainly used by the Saudi defence forces”.

“It is concerning that South Africa is financing projects to bolster the Saudi defences forces at taxpayers expense; it is difficult to ascertain how this is benefitting our economy‚ which is in dire straits at the moment‚” Marais said



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