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Op-Ed: We’re withdrawing from the Arms Procurement Commission, and here’s why


Daily Maverick

By A FEINSTEIN, P HOLDEN AND H VAN VUUREN

August 29, 2014

The Arms Deal was a uniquely damaging moment in our young democratic history. It was concluded after decades of uncontrolled spending on foreign and internal wars by the apartheid regime. From the signing of the contracts in 1999 up to R70 billion of public money continues to be spent on weapons of questionable utility. The country was not and is not facing any meaningful military threat. But rather the most pressing problems that faced us then as they do now are inequality, poverty and unemployment

Since its inception the Arms Deal has been dogged by well supported allegations of corruption. We together with many other activists have consistently challenged the State to fully investigate and prosecute these allegations. Four previous investigations have failed to fully probe the Arms Deal.

We have engaged with these matters in different capacities over many years and we have done this out of the commitment to the primacy of the Constitution and the rule of law in our democracy. Given this commitment we believe that all allegations of corruption must be investigated and prosecuted without fear and favour.

After careful consideration, with great disappointment we have decided to withdraw all participation in the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the R70 billion Arms Deal.

The appointment of the Commission raised great expectations that the truth would finally be established, and that this would challenge the interests of politicians, middlemen and large corporations in one of the most corrupt industries in the world. The Commission had the prospect of serving not only South Africans but all people across the globe campaigning against the devastating impact of corruption in the arms trade.

The Commission has failed on both accounts. It has missed a historic opportunity to support the struggle for transparency and accountability of the powerful.

We have not made our decision lightly. It follows nearly two years of actively trying to support the work of the Commission, assisted by an exceptional pro bono legal team led by Lawyers for Human Rights.

We have taken our decision due to serious and fatal concerns we have regarding the manner in which the Commission has conducted itself. There are four key reasons why we have decided to withdraw:

  1. The Chairman, Judge Willie Seriti, indicated that he was not interested in hearing evidence from witnesses about documents that they had not themselves written. Judge Seriti made this ruling during the testimony of Member of Parliament Mr David Maynier. This prevented Mr Maynier from giving any substantive evidence, as he was not the author of documents that emanated from investigations or government departments. This is particularly disturbing as this limitation was not applied to previous witnesses who were supportive of the Arms Deal. The implication of this ruling is that only those who have been involved in the Arms Deal can introduce evidence. How the Commission intends to discover the truth by only hearing from participants in the Deal is a mystery.

The Chair has also ruled that witnesses should only speak to corruption allegations of which they have personal knowledge. The logical conclusion of this ruling is that only those who have been corrupted, who have corrupted others, or who were intermediaries in such corruption, can give evidence of it. It is obvious that all of these parties have an interest in hiding the truth. Why would the Chair choose to rely solely on their opinions?

We have conducted extensive research into the Arms Deal. We have analysed thousands of documents, and interviewed people who are able to point to where evidence of corruption is likely to be found. We were not direct participants in the Arms Deal. If we are not allowed to talk to documents that we have not written, nor speak to corruption allegations based on documentary evidence, there is no point in our appearing as witnesses. This process will serve to undermine the critics without addressing the evidence they have accumulated. This can only serve to protect the corrupt and compromised.

In response to our attempt to resolve this issue, the Commission has informed us in their correspondence of 27 August 2014 that “The decision [to admit evidence of which a witness not the author, nor facts within a witness’ personal knowledge] will be influenced by the circumstances of each case, including the document’s relevance to the terms of reference and the purpose for which it is sought to be used.” There is no basis on which we can have any expectation that we will be permitted to give evidence on matters not within our personal knowledge, and rely on documents we are not the authors of. The Commission’s rulings to date in respect of other ‘critic’ witnesses, and the Commission’s rulings to date in respect of our cross-examination of other witnesses, clearly indicate the contrary. The Commission has not undertaken that it will now reverse its previous approach. (If it did so, procedural fairness would require the recall of a number of witnesses). Read more here.

South Sudan: Warrior Security ready to employ all independent contractors


Sudan Tribune

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2013

Warrior Security (South Sudan) today re-affirmed its commitment to absorb all UNMISS guards that choose to apply for employment with the company and encouraged the former guards to utilize ongoing recruitment process.

“We have close to 1000 positions at different sites that we need to fill over the next one year,’ said Tony Sugden, CEO Warrior Security (South Sudan). “This opportunity is open to all existing UNMISS guards.”

The security company currently employs 2100 guards and projects that there will be up to 4000 South Sudanese citizens employed by July 2014.

“Warrior has been working with UNMISS, to circulate letters of invitation and application forms however, very few have chosen to come across so far,” said Glenn Corey, Communications Manager at Warrior Security (South Sudan).

“This is an ongoing, open, process. We encourage guards that are interested to fill in the application forms so files can be opened for them to secure employment,” added Mr. Sugden.

“There are additional advantages in working for Warrior Security (South Sudan) as opposed to being an independent contractor, such as medical coverage and permanent employment, neither of which were included in the contracts for independent contractors under previous arrangements.” said Mr. Corey.

The recruitment drive currently under way is in line with the Warrior Security (South Sudan) company policy requiring all guards and supervisors to be South Sudanese to secure employment with Warrior Security (South Sudan).

“In every country that we work in, local residents come first in line whenever a job opportunity arises,” said Mr. Sugden.

“We understand that this may be a worrying time for former independent contractors, but we want to assure them that the vast majority of them will still have jobs, and that in moving to Warrior Security (South Sudan) they will always be respected and well looked after,” said Mr. Corey.

Warrior Security (South Sudan), is a legally registered company in South Sudan and has been operating in all ten states of South Sudan since 2007, when it was known as Southern Sudan. As a private company, Warrior Security (South Sudan) is subject to South Sudan’s current labour laws and legislation. Warrior Security (South Sudan) is proud of its ongoing commitment to offer employment to South Sudanese citizens under the current labour legislation.

For more information:

Glenn Corey

Warrior Security (South Sudan) Communications Manager

glenncorey@warrior-security.com

+211 (0) 954 783 168

African surveillance market on the rise


Defenceweb

April 18, 2013

The size of the African surveillance market is expected to increase dramatically over the next five years, notably due to unrest affecting the continent.

As unrest and security threats continue to escalate, particularly in Northern Africa, it is reasonable to assume that there will be an increased demand for surveillance technology within the next six months, from various security forces across the region as new opportunities for companies providing surveillance solutions are being created, according to Vislink, a global company specialising in the design and manufacture of secure video communications systems.

Vislink, with offices in South Africa, the UK, USA, UAE, Australia and Singapore, said that the African military and surveillance sectors are still not mature in terms of the technology available to them and so considerable investment in this technology will be required.

“Vislink is ideally situated to capitalise upon this demand, providing the high-quality but affordable equipment necessary to deliver an all-encompassing security effort,” stated Ali Zarkesh, Business Development Director at Vislink.

Globally, the company is doing well in the surveillance and military markets – in 2011, Vislink’s activity in the military field represented 16% of the company’s total revenues and the global market for Vislink’s surveillance products currently sits at around £200 million. Vislink’s activity in the law enforcement sector, which represents 70% of total surveillance revenues, is specifically driven by the growing need for robust video surveillance.

At present, the biggest opportunities in the military and surveillance space are coming from the Middle East, Far East and Latin America, Zarkesh said. Growth in the Middle East is driven by the volatile geopolitical environment and subsequent rising trend in upgrading military communications systems and networks. Vislink is also seeing significant opportunities from coalition forces deployed around the world. These bodies require a reliable means of communication to connect foot patrols, airborne units and command centres.

North African countries, in particular, are currently investing in surveillance solutions in order to help return a level of stability to the region. The political and security situation that has escalated in the past two years has created several opportunities for Vislink in this sector.

“It is also important to consider that several other countries in this part of the world have a heavy military focus. Wide ranging budgets are allocated to the defence sector in order to secure the country’s borders and protect its inhabitants. As a result, Vislink’s main opportunities across developing regions stem from growing covert surveillance demands,” Zarkesh said.

However, the future is not all bright as there are big challenges as well as opportunities in the defence industry. For instance, the UK spends around £34 billion on defence each year, yet the armed forces have recently seen the biggest budget cuts to their sector since 1991. This presents a unique challenge in itself, with military personnel requiring the same high-quality surveillance solutions as before, but now without the premium price tag, Vislink pointed out.

Vislink specialises in the production of satellite, wireless, video and IP solutions and targets government, surveillance, broadcast and news markets. For instance it delivers news gathering tools for the media and surveillance options for the government and military.

The company recently launched its Mantis MSAT, which it claims is the world’s smallest and lightest satellite data terminal, weighing 12.5 kg (27.5 lb). “Following a successful launch, the product has been deployed by several military forces around the world,” Vislink said. The Mantis MSAT can deliver voice, video and data communications, including HD video. Initial military orders have been filled and Vislink’s MSAT terminals are currently undergoing field trials for battlefield, command centre and special operations implementations.

Helicopter crash kills Kenyan security minister, 5 others in forest outside capital


Washington Post

By Associated Press, Published: June 10

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s internal security minister was killed with five other people when the police helicopter they were traveling in crashed in a forest near Kenya’s capital, officials said. An anti-corruption crusader said the incident calls into question the government’s procurement of airplanes and helicopters for its security forces.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and his deputy, Orwa Ojode, were among the six killed in the Sunday crash, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said. Two pilots and two bodyguards also died in the crash, officials said.

Anti-Corruption crusader Mwalimu Mati said the crash should make the country focus on the history of bogus government purchases for the Kenya Police Air wing. Mati runs the corruption watchdog Mars Group, which has done several reports on the government’s purchase of police helicopters and their maintenance. It has called the purchases questionable, and pointed out that they have cost the country millions of dollars since 1999.

“Corruption in public procurement can come back to bite you,” Mati said…Read More.

Governance, Security Among Areas of U.S.-Nigerian Cooperation


U.S. Africa Command

By Anastasya Lloyd-Damnjanovic
U.S. Department of State

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jun 7, 2012 — Calling Nigeria “one of our most important strategic partners,” senior U.S. officials met with Nigeria’s foreign minister, Olegbenga Ashiru, and other Nigerian officials June 4-5, 2012 for the seventh gathering of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC). The meeting was dedicated to evaluating past cooperative efforts and ideas for future coordination by the BNC’s working groups in governance, regional security, energy and agriculture.

Launched in April 2010, the BNC encourages greater U.S.-Nigerian cooperation through working groups that focus on areas of mutual interest.

At the June 4-5 meeting in Washington, the Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group identified electoral reforms and strategies to improve electoral procedure in preparation for the 2015 national elections as issues, as well as strategies to improve the Nigerian public’s confidence in anti-corruption measures. In his opening remarks, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns recognized the working group’s success in promoting the transparency of the 2011 Nigerian presidential election.

The United States contributed to a $31.3 million election assistance program for the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, resulting in an election that was widely considered free and fair.

“The United States is invested in Nigeria’s success because Nigeria’s challenges are Africa‘s challenges,” Burns said. “And if we can help Nigeria chart a secure, prosperous and democratic course, then Nigeria’s successes can be Africa’s as well.”

Nigeria is also the United States’ largest sub-Saharan trading partner.

The Regional Security Working Group reviewed reports of extra-legal activity by Nigerian security forces, considered ways to inform the public of governmental efforts to prevent violent extremism, and affirmed the continuation of cooperative efforts to improve Nigerian military and police units. Methods for the attraction of private investment and the distribution of the benefits from Nigeria’s natural wealth to its people were the focus of discussion by the Energy and Investment Working Group, while the Agriculture and Food Security Working Group examined opportunities for growth in the private agricultural sector and ways to increase agricultural lending in Nigeria.

The two countries concluded the BNC meeting with an agreement for a joint communique that will outline future assignments for the working groups and affirmed the United States’ commitment to holding a working group on the Niger Delta later this year.

“The robust engagement of local and federal government from both our countries over the past two days demonstrates the importance and depth of our partnership,” Burns said in closing remarks for the BNC at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on June 5.

“I see enormous promise for Nigeria and for our relationship in the years to come,” he added.

Source: IIP Digital

Contractors to the Congo


ISN ETN Zurich

December 1, 2011

By Jody Ray Bennett for ISN Insights

While security and defense contracting in Africa is nothing new, the awarding of another multi-million dollar contract by the US State Department to a controversial private security operation is perhaps indicative of just how thinly stretched the US military is becoming. This does not bode well for either oversight or accountability.

From the outsourcing of security functions to widespread mercenary activity, contracting on the African continent is nothing new. For decades the continent has been a playground for private third parties involved in everything from the training of militaries to the toppling of governments, to the legitimate and illicit arms trades. That an impressive volume of literature and documentary evidence exists on the private involvement of individuals and companies in the shaping of the African security economy speaks to this.

DynCorp’s contract

And so it follows: last June, DynCorp International – one of the “Big Three” armed security contractors that arrived in Iraq back in 2003 alongside Blackwater/Xe and Triple Canopy – announced that it had been awarded a State Department contract to provide training to the military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While the details of the mission remain purposely ambiguous, the contract does specify that the task order was issued by the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, has a base time limit of one year with two additional option years and will focus on training junior to mid-level military personnel in functional areas such as communications, logistics and engineering.

“This is consistent with the recent political history of Africa. Private security contractors have been active in the rebuilding of Liberia since the removal of Charles Taylor. They have also had a role in training AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) peacekeepers as well. Traditionally, training on this level has been offered only by those [US military personnel] currently serving on active duty. But this contract reveals just how thinly spread the US Military is around the world,” Scott A Morgan, an analyst of US policy in Africa, told ISN Insights…Read more.

South Africa cancels much-delayed private prisons tender, reviews PPP model


Engineering News

By Terence Creamer

October 27, 2011

The South African government has officially cancelled the much-delayed public-private partnership (PPP) procurement process for four new prisons, which would have added 3 000 additional bed spaces at the Paarl, East London, Nigel and Klerksdorp correctional centres.

The procurement process was initiated in October 2003 when a transaction advisory team was appointed to study the feasibility of delivering the facilities in partnership with the private sector.

The request for qualifications were released in October 2007 and the final tender on September 30, 2008. The bids were submitted in May 2009.

However, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who took over the position in May 2009, instituted a policy and operational review, during which the bids were “not opened or evaluated” and were kept in a secure facility.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the review highlighted a number of financial and operational problems with the PPP model, including the fact that it conflicted with policy stipulating that security and custodial services of the State not be handed over the third parties.

She acknowledged that new prison capacity was still required, owing to ongoing overcrowding. But also insisted that South Africa needed to find new solutions to dealing with offenders beside incarceration.

The department had, thus, issued a tender for electronic tagging as one possible alternative and would be seeking to promote the solution within the Justice and Security clusters.

It was also interrogating other legislative provisions to help it deal with overcrowding, such as the better use of the parole systems and allowing for a greater portion of sentences to be served through community service programmes.

Additional facilities would also still be built, but the Minister offered no specifics save to say that it was a “myth” that construction jobs would be lost as a result of the cancellation of the PPP tender.

Bidders had been give the option to revise their offers to confine their involvement to construction and maintenance, but indicated that the PPP would only be attractive if they were also involved with the custodial services.

She also lambasted two existing PPP prison contracts, noting that, while the Kimberley facility had been built at a cost of R300-million, government would end up paying R1.5-billion for the capital cost of construction over a 15-year period.

Cabinet, which endorsed the cancellation, also indicated that there would be a review of PPP models across government.

Pirates hijack Italian ship in Benin


Oueme River as it empties in the Atlantic Ocea...
Image via Wikipedia

English.news.cn   2011-07-24 23:48:10

NAIROBI, July 24 (Xinhua) — Pirates have hijacked an Italian owned ship in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin in West Africa, a regional maritime official confirmed on Sunday.

Andrew Mwangura, Maritime editor for Somalia Report said the Anema E Core was seized by the pirates early on Sunday with 23 crew members. “The ship owned by Rizzo Bottiglieri De Carini of Italy was hijacked this morning in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin in West Africa,” Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

He said the crew is composed of two Italians, a Romanian and 20 Filipinos and the vessel was flying Italian flag when she was seized.

Last week, the pirates hijacked a Greek-owned Liberian flagged oil tanker Agean Star off Nigerian coast. However, Mwangura did not establish the nationalities of the crew members onboard.

Somalia: Armed guards to be allowed on ships


US Navy 071202-N-3764J-003 Merchant vessel Al ...
Image via Wikipedia

Thursday 21st July 2011

By Keith Hamilton

Shipping & Heritage Reporter

THE threat from pirates to British shipping is so great that UK-flagged vessels – including many that visit Southampton – will soon be able to employ armed guards as they navigate dangerous waters.

Shipping minister Mike Penning has indicated the Government is about to introduce new legislation which will change the present law and give the legal go-ahead for ships flying the red ensign to recruit armed guards…“Legislation will have to be changed to protect our seafarers around the world,’’ said the minister. “At present it is illegal to use armed guards on British ships, but we are where we are and I cannot ignore the situation.’’ The government believes the new regulations will regulate and control the recruitment of armed guards, and will stop any “cowboys’’ being allowed on board British ships.

Despite a naval task force patrolling near the Horn of Africa, Somali pirates have taken 361 sailors captive in the first six months of this year…Read more.

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