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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

South Africa Govt arming dictators?

News - South Africa: SA selling arms to rogue states - DA

A crisis in South Africa's arms control body has resulted in weapon deals being authorised to repressive regimes such as Iran, Libya, Zimbabwe and North Korea, the main opposition party said on Sunday.

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of defence David Maynier said "several dodgy deals appear to have slipped through the cracks" as the arms control body failed to meet regularly and produce regular reports as required by law.

Maynier said his investigation into the activities of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee showed deals had been authorised to sell weapons to some of the most repressive societies in the world.

Many of these countries are under partial or full arms embargoes by the United Nations and European Union.

Government spokesperson Harold Maloka said they had not received the report and could not yet comment on it.

According to Maynier, in the past 13 months deals have been given the green light to send multiple grenade launchers and glide bombs - long-range precision guided weapons - to Libya.

The delivery of multiple grenade launchers to Syria had also been approved, with a sale of sniper rifles pending.

The NCACC has also authorised the export of thousands of upgraded assault rifles to Venezuela, and there are fears these arms could find their way to Farc guerillas in Colombia.

Ammunition for assault rifles and hand guns had been approved for neighbouring Zimbabwe.

South Africa has come under fire for exporting arms on the continent, and was the subject of widespread condemnation last year for allowing Chinese arms and ammunition to be transported through South Africa to Zimbabwe in the midst of that country's political crisis.

A researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, Guy Lamb, said the NCACC act stated arms should not be sold to countries where they could contribute to internal repression or violate human rights.

"None of those (countries) violate UN arms embargoes which South Africa has to adhere to, but there are certain problems with exporting to Zimbabwe for example and Venezuela, who are not the most reliable end users of that equipment".

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