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UN documents shed light on African defence procurement


October 12, 2014

Tanzania’s Type 07PA 120 mm self-propelled mortars were seen for the first time in a 26 April parade. China’s submission to the UNODA says it supplied 12 large calibre artillery systems to Tanzania in 2013. Source: IHS/Ping Zhang

The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) recently released two documents that provide additional details of African defence procurement in 2013, including the numbers for some of the acquisitions that countries are known to have made that year.

For example, China said it had supplied 11 unidentified armoured combat vehicles and 12 large calibre artillery systems to Cameroon. This is probably a reference to the Type 07P infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and PTL-07 tank destroyers with 105 mm guns that were paraded for the first time on 20 May.

Similarly, China said it had supplied 24 new tanks and 12 large calibre artillery systems to Tanzania. The Tanzania People’s Defence Force paraded Type 63A light amphibious tanks and 120 mm Type 07PA self-propelled mortar systems for the first time on 26 April.

China also said it transferred 30 unidentified tanks to Chad. This suggests the tanks seen on transporters in the Chadian parade in August were not its old T-55s, but newly acquired Type 59s.

Belarus confirmed to the UN that it sold four Su-24M supersonic attack aircraft to Sudan, as well as four Mi-24 assault helicopters, but no additional Su-25s as claimed by the source that revealed the Su-24 sale.

Sudan also bought more armour from Ukraine, namely 20 T-72 tanks, 20 BMP-1 IFVs, and five 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled guns. It is unclear if the T-72s were exported as kits to be assembled in Sudan as the Al-Zubair tank. Ukraine also sold five 122 mm D-30 howitzers to Sudan.

Having delivered 99 T-72s to Ethiopia in 2012, Ukraine transferred another 29 in 2013. Ukrainian state arms exporter Ukrspecexport announced in June 2011 that the company had signed a USD100 million deal to supply 200 surplus T-72s to Ethiopia. It is unclear if the first deliveries were made in 2011 as Ukraine did not submit any information to the UNODA that year.

Ethiopia also acquired 12 surplus Mi-24 helicopters from Ukraine and 12 MiG-23 jets from Bulgaria. Described as “dismantled, expired lifespan, without armament”, the MiG-23s were presumably acquired so they could be cannibalised to keep Ethiopia’s existing fleet flying.

Bulgaria confirmed that it supplied the 152 mm D-30 howitzers that were seen in a parade by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July.

Most of Russia’s defence exports to Africa went to Algeria, which acquired 101 tanks and 10 armoured combat vehicles. Algeria is reportedly in the process of acquiring a second batch of T-90S tanks from Russia to bring its total fleet up to 305 vehicles.

The only other African export listed in the Russian submission to the UNODA was for four combat helicopters delivered to Ghana: an apparent reference to the Mi-171Sh aircraft it received that year.

Mozambique, meanwhile, appears to have received its first tracked vehicles in 2013. The UK said it exported 40 F430 armoured combat vehicles to the country: probably a reference to surplus British Army vehicles from the FV430 family. The UK also delivered 20 old Saxon wheeled armoured personnel carriers to Mozambique.

Rwanda, meanwhile, acquired just one FV430 from the UK.

UN lifts lid on incompetent, abusive and corrupt peacekeepers


Times

Apr 19, 2013 | Sapa-AP

The chief procurement officer in the UN peace-building mission in Sierra Leone signed three contracts worth more than $2.7 million in total, way in excess of his $50 000 per contract limit.

UN Flag. File photo.

Photograph by: Ralph Orlowski/ Getty Images

A staff member in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo used a UN vehicle without authorisation to transport sacks of a precious mineral into a neighbouring country. The UN mission in Liberia was unable to account for 70 vehicles.

Those were just three of the examples fraud, bribery, financial and procurement misconduct and incompetence cited in the annual report of the UN’s internal watchdog, which circulated Thursday.

Since the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq that blew up after the US-led invasion, the UN has sought to strengthen oversight of its peacekeeping, which is its largest operation, both in personnel and cost. The UN has more than 100 000 peacekeepers.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services completed 42 investigations of sexual exploitation, abuse involving minors or rape.

In the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, for example, OIOS said it received a report that one or more police officers had sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy. An investigation produced clear evidence, including a handwritten admission by the officer, who was dismissed and sentenced to one year of “rigorous imprisonment,” the report said.

While the officer was punished, OIOS expressed regret “that the sexual exploitation and abuse of the boy had likely occurred over a three-year period but had remained undetected until 2012.”

The report did not specify the outcome of all of the 42 sexual abuse cases.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse remains a significant area of concern, with the greatest number of such offences being committed by uniformed personnel,” there report said.

The office urged stepped up efforts to prevent sexual abuse, saying the continuing allegations “reflect a failure to create and sustain an environment that deters such behaviour.”

Several cases of sexual abuse were also reported in Congo.

Also in that African country, the OIOS said local authorities arrested a staff member transporting sacks of precious minerals on suspicion of mineral trafficking. He was convicted of rebellion, attempted fraud, illegal ownership and transport of minerals, and is currently in prison.

Elsewhere, OIOS said the UN mission in Afghanistan spent about $42 000 to airlift obsolete and damaged equipment from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the capital Kabul from January 2010 to December 2011 when it could have been transported by road for about $1 400.

The UN mission in Iraq overpaid two contractors a total of $632 992, it said, and at the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a staff member with expired procurement authority approved 87 purchase orders valued at $29.13 million.

In impoverished Liberia, which is emerging from a long civil war, OIOS said the UN peacekeeping mission was unable to account for 70 vehicles “owing to the lack of adequate and effective procedures to safeguard assets.”

It said 20 of 64 closed circuit televisions installed after the theft of four vehicles weren’t operational and data was only stored for a week. It said 12 of 21 heavy vehicles had been in the workshop for over a year, and two others for over three years, because of the lack of spare parts.

OIOS said only two of 25 “quick impact” projects supported by the Liberian mission and designed to provide jobs and spur the economy were completed in the three-month time frame. Thirteen took up to three years to finish, OIOS said.

The OIOS also criticised the UN peace building mission’s management in Sierra Leone, which is trying to rebuild after the end of a civil war in 2002.

The report said the chief procurement officer in Sierra Leone signed off on contracts of $814 834, $1 815 652 and $105 000, even though he only had authority to sign for $50 000. The report did not say what happened to the officer.

The OIOS also said the Sierra Leone mission awarded six contracts without competition to vendors that didn’t meet UN requirements.

When the UN wrapped up its mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, OIOS said $1.1 million worth of equipment and material that was supposed to be shipped to other missions was kept in the port at Douala, Cameroon from July 2011 until July 2012 by the freight contractor.

“As a result, assets depreciated and may have deteriorated in storage if conditions were not optimal,” it said.

Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors


UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Foreign Money and Revolving Doors


December 12, 2012

It was difficult to take seriously the attack on President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, based on her faulty renditions of events surrounding the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Certainly, her performance on the Sunday TV talk shows was unimpressive, whatever conclusions one may draw as to what accounted for her persistent inaccuracies in describing what happened. But there was no real evidence that she willfully dissembled on the matter, and it didn’t seem to be of a magnitude to disqualify her for the job of Secretary of State, to which Obama reportedly wants to nominate her.

The subsequent reports about her actions regarding various African conflicts and her coziness with certain brutal strongman figures are another matter. These call into question her judgment and generate puzzlement about just what drives her views and attitudes about the bloody conflagrations that erupt with such regularity on that continent. These matters clearly would justify voting against her if any confirmation resolution made its way to the Senate, although many supporters of Rice—and of Obama—would find ways to dismiss the issue.

But there’s one fact in the background of Susan Rice that ought to be considered disqualifying—her past work for Rwanda when she was a consultant with a strategic consulting firm called Intellibridge. The riff on Rice is that she has demonstrated a certain softness toward Rwanda and particularly its president, Paul Kagame, in various policy deliberations regarding Rwanda’s support for a brutal rebel group that is wreaking havoc in neighboring Congo. And some have wondered if her past business relationship with Rwanda may be influencing her thinking on the matter.

But let’s step back here. We can never know for sure just what drives Rice’s ongoing desire to shield the Rwandan leader from international censure and pressure, though her actions, as reported recently by Helene Cooper in the New York Times, aren’t particularly fragrant. But we do know that she took money from an African government after serving in the State Department as assistant secretary for African affairs.

There’s nothing wrong with contracting with foreign governments who want influence in the U.S. capital. And some Washington bigwigs have made lots of money catering to these governments and their leaders. That’s fine. I wouldn’t even argue that Obama should succeed in extracting more tax dollars from these people.

But our country’s Secretary of State represents the United States of America throughout the world—to countries large and small; in matters weighty and trivial. There should never be any doubt—abroad or at home—about what drives the sentiments and actions of such high governmental officials: the national interest, as determined by the nation’s president.

No president should ever appoint to the position of secretary of state anyone who has ever taken money from a foreign government. There should be a clear dichotomy between getting rich serving the interests of other countries in the U.S. capital and serving U.S. interests at the top of America’s foreign-policy establishment.

In fact, there ought to be a law. Congress should pass legislation debarring from such elevated positions of service in the foreign-policy realm people who have had business relationships with foreign countries. No debates about how long those relationships lasted . . . or how much money was involved . . . or whether it really and truly would color the person’s judgment or outlook on countries of past financial alignment. The law would cut through all that by saying simply that you can take money from foreign governments or you can represent your country abroad, but you can’t do both.

Paul R. Pillar of Georgetown, writing in these spaces, noted accurately the problems that arise when top Washington officials navigate the enticing revolving door between government service and rich contracts in the private sector. He said Rice’s attachment to Kagame and his government illustrates “the baggage that in-and-outers may acquire during periods that they are out of government.” He adds, “Relationships…of advocacy, trust and taking action on behalf of the client’s interests are not relationships that can be turned on and off like a light switch.”

True, but it gets difficult to sort it all out, and efforts to do so simply confuse the matter and foster endless debate.

In Helene Cooper’s Times piece, Rice’s acolytes rushed to her defense by saying that her past connection with Rwanda hasn’t affected her behavior as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations—and hence presumably wouldn’t do so if she were secretary of state. Her spokesman, Payton Knopf, told the Times, “Ambassador Rice’s brief consultancy at Intellibridge has had no impact on her work at the United Nations. She implements the agreed policy of the Unites States at the U.N.” Perhaps. But that’s hardly the point. The question is what kind of advocacy does she put forth before the agreed policy of the United States is determined.

We don’t know the answer to that question and, if we did, we still wouldn’t know what motivations affected whatever advocacy Ms. Rice embraced. But, if Congress drew a line between foreign representation and U.S. foreign service, it wouldn’t matter. No debate. Her name wouldn’t come up.

No such line is going to be forthcoming from Congress. It is not in the interest of official Washington, and the American people don’t care. But, if Obama sends up Rice’s name for secretary of state, an ugly debate will ensue. And it will be a debate that should have been avoided.

Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

Africa land deals lead to water giveaway


guardian.co.uk

By Mark Tran

June 12, 2012

Africa heads for ‘hydrological suicide’ as land deals hand water resources to foreign firms, threatening environmental disaster.

Millions of people will lose access to traditional sources of water because of “land grabs” in Africa, according to a report on Monday that looks behind the scramble for farmland in Africa.

The report: Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab, shows how land deals, covering millions of acres of fertile lands, also pose a threat to Africa’s fresh water systems.

“If these land grabs are allowed to continue, Africa is heading for a hydrological suicide,” said Henk Hobbelink, co-ordinator of Grain, a group that backs small farmers.

The report – the latest to raise the alarm over competition for scarce water resources – said all land deals in Africa involve large-scale industrial agriculture operations that will consume massive amounts of water, could rob millions of people of their access to water and risk the depletion of the continent’s most precious water sources.

Grain cites the Nile and Niger river basins as two examples of the “giveaway” of land and water rights. Three of the bigger countries in the Nile basis – Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt – have already leased out millions of hectares in the basin. Citing figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Grain said these made clear that recent land deals vastly outstrip water availability in Nile basis.

According to Grain, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt already have irrigation infrastructures in place for 5.4 million hectares (13 million acres) of land and have now leased out a further 8.6 million hectares of land.

“This would require much more water than what is available now in the entire Nile basin and would amount to no less than hydrological suicide,” said the report.

In the Niger river basin, independent experts believe Mali has the water capacity to irrigate only 250,000 hectares. Yet, said Grain, the Malian government has already signed over 470,000 hectares to foreign companies from Libya, China, the UK, Saudi Arabia and other countries in recent years, virtually all of it in the Niger basin.

Grain said the secrecy around land deals makes it hard to know exactly what is being handed over to foreign companies, but from those contracts leaked or made public, it is clear they tend not to contain any specific mention of water rights, leaving the companies free to build dams and irrigation canals at their discretion…Read more.

South Africa may be sanctions-busting hub for Iran, warns DA


The Witness

by Rajaa Azzakan

May 15th, 2012

CAPE TOWN — The Democratic Alliance warned yesterday that South Africa may be used as a route to get parts for military helicopters in Iran.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, DA parliamentary leader, yesterday told the Cape Town Press Club this was totally against a resolution of the United Nations.

At the same time she praised Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe for his request that the Public Prosecutor investigate bribery allegations against his life partner, Gugu Mtshali.

She said Motlanthe showed much needed political will to get corruption investigated independently.

The Sunday Times reported that Mtshali was allegedly involved in an attempt to get a bribe of R104 million in exchange for government support for a South African company to get a contract to supply Bell helicopters and parts to Iran.

Mtshali, Raisaka Masebelanga and other associates of Motlanthe reportedly met in February last year in Johannesburg with representatives of 360 Aviation to discuss the buying of government support for a contract with Iran, which would be worth some R2 billion.

The report stated that Barry Oberholzer, chief director of 360 Aviation, said Mtshali and company wanted R10 million up front as a consultancy fee as well as shares worth some R94 million.

A front company, which would have been registered by 360 Aviation, would have supplied American Bell helicopters and parts to the the National Iran Oil company.

Mazibuko warned that the larger picture — that South Africa could be used as a route to supply parts for Iran military helicopters — should not be lost sight of.

She said Motlanthe’s fast reaction was in stark contrast with the delays involving investigations into South Africa’s arms deal, which have been dragging on for years.

Mazibuko will ask President Jacob Zuma in the Assembly today if the full report by the commission of inquiry that he ordered into the weapons transactions will be made public and whether any action will follow against those involved.

Regarding Cosatu’s refusal to meet the DA, Mazibuko said the labour federation was not serious about helping to solve the issue of joblessness among South Africa’s youth.

She said it seemed the trade union was placing petty party politics ahead of SA’s interests.

Private firm flouts UN embargo in Somalia


IOL News

By Ivor Powell

February 26, 2012

Eight months after SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered in a UN Security Council as the “most egregious threat” to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA/British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile Somalia has not had a functioning central government for upwards of 20 years.

Tlali Tlali, the spokesman for the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, confirmed that neither the SA arm of the Saracen operation, nor any of the individuals associated with the Somali adventure had applied for accreditation as legitimate security contractors.

UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) co-ordinator Matthew Bryden confirmed the company had failed to seek or secure authorisation from the international authority to operate as a private military contractor in Somalia after being fingered in the Monitoring Group’s June 2011 report.

We understand that the UN is in possession of compelling evidence that Saracen has continued with military training and deployment in defiance of the UN’s general arms embargo. The continuing violations of UN Resolutions 1973 and 1976 are expected to be addressed in detail in the SEMG’s forthcoming annual report at midyear.

Saracen’s operation in Somalia is headed by Executive Outcomes stalwart and – until the mercenary outfit was disbanded – holding company director, Lafras Luitingh. Luitingh is also a director of Australian African Global Investments (AAGI) the company primarily involved in logistical supply and procurement for the operation…Read more.

MMD in UNHCR seal scam


The Post Online

By Kombe Chimpinde

February 21, 2012

ZAMBIAN security wings have commenced investigations into a scam where the MMD allegedly used the UNHCR seal to swindle a South African company of over US$24 million.

Sources disclosed that suspected MMD officials had forged a UN seal and signature of an official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) sub-head continental Office in Nairobi, Kenya charged with procurement and supply for Southern and Central African states to lure a South African Company to procure on the party’s behalf T-shirts and blankets between March and June, 2011.

The company trading as Abel Joseph General Traders situated on Leicester Road, Anerly Bedford Gardens, 2007 South Africa, was contracted by Dr Naidoo Lyden, in his capacity as an official of the UNHCR to procure the goods, sources revealed.

An agent of the company and signatory to the agreement only identified as Ahmed, whom police have summoned to help with investigations, is said to have reported the matter late last year to complain of the disappearance of the unscrupulous persons he entered into the deal with involving US$24 million and who had received part of the consignment.

The sources said Dr Naidoo and two named officers had since been placed on the wanted list in connection with the matter and are likely to be charged.

According to a Heads of Agreement document entered into bearing a UNHCR seal and the signature of an official, Abel Joseph General Traders was ostensibly lured into signing a deal to procure 10,000 T-shirts and blankets.

The agreement obtained from sources claims that the said blankets and plain T-shirts were meant for Southern and Central Africa.

Sources disclosed that the deal that was brokered by an agent only identified as Ahmed, representing the company and Dr Naidoo, acting as signatory of UN on behalf of the MMD under the guise of UNHCR which was portrayed to be a humanitarian operation by the organisation into Southern and Central Africa.

The contract indicated that it was to last a period of five years with a suspensive condition and that the UN was satisfied with the quality, service and delivery of the agent/broker.

The parties also agreed that the pricing be re-negotiated year by year to accommodate fluctuations and price escalations.

“The parties have agreed that Abel Joseph General Traders and or its agents, suppliers, associates and partners shall supply the United Nations, Central African Region, High Commission of Refugees the T-shirts and blankets as described in Clause 1.8 in this agreement,” the agreement outlined in part.

“The agent shall deliver from time to time, the respective consignment to the respective port of entry or region of distribution of schedule of delivery marked in Annexure 1, during the term of the contract. The agent /broker shall not supply any other United Nations branch outside the stipulated region of the Southern and Central African Countries.”

According to sources, the company was to get its first payment 30 days after supply of a minimum of 1000 blankets and 50, 000 T-shirts through an international bank.

It is not clear, however, whether the MMD had received the whole total amount of the blankets and T-shirts stipulated in the agreement.

Sources further revealed that part of the consignment held in the company’s name was stuck at Kazungula border because it was not cleared.

Texas oilman is at it again — now with Zuma


Mail&Guardian Online

By STEFAANS BRÜMMER

February 17, 2012

A Nigerian-American oilman, who has become a major backer of President Jacob Zuma, paid R50-million to a wanted Congolese warlord in an illegal gold deal, according to the United Nations.

A UN expert group monitoring compliance with arms sanctions in the Democratic Republic of Congo has identified Kase Lawal, who heads the second-largest black-owned business in the United States, as the financier of the deal. Lawal persisted with the deal even after being told the warlord was the seller, the panel has claimed.

But the transaction imploded last February when security agents in the eastern DRC arrested Lawal’s half-brother and some associates, confiscating the gold they had just bought. Lawal and Camac, the oil and gas group he heads, tried to distance themselves from the events at the time, suggesting it was really one of the associates’ deals.

It was just seven months later, in September last year, that Lawal took pride of place next to Zuma in Houston when Lawal’s alma mater, the Texas Southern University, awarded Zuma an honorary doctorate. Lawal appears to hold some sway at the university — he became its largest alumnus donor in 2009 by pledging $1-million, after which he, too, received an honorary doctorate.

At Zuma’s award ceremony a partnership was announced between Camac and Zuma’s charitable foundation, the Jacob G Zuma RDP Education Trust, in terms of which the company would sponsor beneficiaries of the trust to study at Texas Southern and another Houston university. That, the trust confirmed to the Mail & Guardian, came on top of a five-year, R1-million-a-year Camac endowment to the trust, effective from 2010.

Zuma founded the trust in the 1990s when he was a KwaZulu-Natal MEC. The trust’s website says it is supporting 1 200 young people to get an education…Read more.

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