SA's arms sales to Zim 'above board'
The sale of military equipment to Zimbabwe has sparked outrage and calls for the government to explain its actions.
The discovery of the sale of hardware worth more than R2-billion was revealed in answers to parliamentary questions by DA MP David Maynier yesterday.
Maynier was questioning the chairman of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, about the export of military hardware.
In its quarterly report for April to June, the committee revealed it had sold more than R2.7-billion worth of equipment, with R18.1-billion in arms sale contracts still pending.
The report showed South Africa had exported millions of rands worth of category C equipment to Zimbabwe and more than R500 000 worth of category A equipment to Rwanda.
Category A equipment includes artillery, ammunition and mortar bombs. Category C includes armoured vehicles other than combat vehicles, military radios and unmanned vehicles.
While Maynier said he would demand answers over the sale of military equipment to Zimbabwe, a defence analyst said the alarm cannot be raised yet.
Analyst Helmoed Heitman said while the European Union and the US had arms embargoes on Zimbabwe, the United Nations did not, so there was nothing stopping South Africa from exporting weapons to Zimbabwe.
"The equipment we have sold is minute and is non-combative. While some would question the sale of military equipment to Zimbabwe, serious questions need to be asked over the sale of weapons to Rwanda, especially as it includes ammunition," he said.
In June, the UN highlighted Rwanda's links to the M23 rebel group's operations in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where a bloody conflict is being waged between that country's government and various militia.
Heitman said although Rwanda's involvement could not be proved, it was not in doubt.
He said it had to be understood that because South Africa and Zimbabwe were part of the Southern African Development Community and the SADC stand-by brigade, both countries had to contribute to the military peace force.
'This means that should both countries be deployed together on a peacekeeping mission, they would have to operate together.
"To operate together means they have to have the same or very similar equipment, which is what these sales - especially of radios and other communication equipment - is about."
Heitman said South Africa's sale of weapons was not unusual.
"We currently sell more than R1-billion worth of mine-protected and mine-detection vehicles to the US military for its operations in Afghanistan. We also sell equipment for fighter aircraft and submarines to different nations."
Maynier said it was not known what military equipment had been sold to Zimbabwe.
"We do not know what this equipment includes or the quantity. They say it is one thing, but it could be something completely different."