South Africa remains firm on its arms export conditions to third countries, particularly with regard to human rights issues. And any country that wants to violate it simply runs the risk of falling foul of the law. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are experiencing this. Even if, in South Africa, the entire defense sector is screaming in agony.
The South African authorities have decided to block arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. To lift its blockade, the National Committee for the Control of Conventional Weapons (NCACC), a group of ministers and deputy ministers who approve exports, requires foreign customers to pledge not to transfer arms to third parties and allowing South African officials to inspect their facilities for compliance, Reuters told Reuters on Thursday that four defense industry officials were in the country.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which account for at least one-third of South Africa’s arms exports, dismissed inspections as a violation of their sovereignty, the sources said. Oman and Algeria also refused inspections and saw imports from South Africa blocked, industry officials said.
Yet for South Africa, which has experienced a long period of oppression during the segregationist and racist regime of apartheid, it is a question of avoiding complicity in regimes that violate human rights. Thus, South African export conditions also take into account criteria such as human rights, regional conflicts, the risk of diversion, United Nations Security Council resolutions and the national interest in the United States. the evaluation of export permit applications, « said Ezra Jele, South African director of conventional arms control at the Ministry of Defense.
Jobs in danger
Last February, an Amnesty International report accused the UAE of diverting weapons supplied by Western states and other states to militias accused of war crimes in Yemen. In the same month, a CNN investigation revealed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had transferred US weapons to Yemeni fighters.
If these conditions are not openly questioned, however, they involve threats to the defense industry, alert the big bosses. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates alone account for one-third of the 4.7 billion rand of arms exports allowed in South Africa.
Companies such as Denel and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), major players in the sector, have also said that their exports to the Middle East have not been authorized since March. « We currently have a clause that prevents us from exporting 25 billion rand ($ 1.7 billion) worth of value today, » Simphiwe Hamilton, director of the South African Aerospace Industries Association, told Reuters. Maritime and Defense (AMD).
Consequences invoked, the fall in turnover, but most importantly, the risk of reducing jobs in a context of recession and rising unemployment rate. Unions have already alerted the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, after companies announced they could cut as many as 500 jobs if the situation is not restored.
Exhorted to action, the arms control committee remains straight in his boots. There is no question of being an exception.