|CANCEL THE ARMS DEALS!|
|OPEN AND TRANSPARENT GOVERNANCE!|
|REPUDIATE THE DEBT!|
again shall South Africa be the fountainhead of conflict in the region and
further afield. Never again
shall our country be the source of armaments used to suppress our neighbours.
Never again shall we spend our people's resources to develop weapons
of mass destruction."
of apartheid resulted in class, race and other inequalities within our
society. The struggle against apartheid which lasted for decades and claimed
the lives of many was mainly about redressing these imbalances. And about
creating a society whereby all citizens, not just a few, benefited from the
the transition to democracy in 1994, many South Africans realised that the
society they were going to inherit from the apartheid regime was a highly
militarised one. Militarisation manifested itself in a culture of violence
and disrespect for human life, in a secretive arms industry and in high
spending on the military. The democratically elected government took steps
to reduce this militarisation mainly by curbing the defence budget. In this
context, the annual defence budget was scaled down. From 1989 it dropped by
about 50% to R9.4 billion in 1997. This released resources for
reconstruction and development. Since 1998 however, this process has been
reversed owing to massive arms acquisitions.
September 1999 when the cabinet announced the R29.9 billion arms deals, we
were promised that the deals would generate offsets of R110 billion in
investments and 65 000 jobs. But what was touted as an economic salvation
for the country has turned into a disaster. Firstly, the cost of the deals
has been soaring and by April this year it had gone up to R51 billion.
Military Spending will not necessarily decline at the finalisation of the
current weapons purchase programme. Still pending, is a rearmament programme
for the army expected to cost the taxpayer an additional R13, 6 billion.
arms deals represent not only the biggest ever-commercial deal for South
Africa, but for all sub-Saharan Africa.
even our Minister of Trade and Industry acknowledges that the offsets and
promised jobs will not be as high as expected. According to him the 65 000
jobs have now turned into only 15 000 direct jobs with the remainder to be
indirect and the R110 billion investments have been reduced to R104 billion.
Is it naïve to ask why if the costs of the arms deals keep rising, the
promised investments are dropping instead of rising concomitantly?
government has not been transparent or honest about the costs and benefits
of the arms deals. Most importantly though is the fact that international
experience tells us that the offsets and the jobs will be even less than
what the minister figures. So we should not hold out much hope that the arms
deals will make any significant contribution to poverty eradication. What
the deals will nevertheless show is the misdirection of our resources which
sorely are needed to enhance socio-economic development. Will future
generations judge us kindly for this profligacy?
of importance have been the allegations of impropriety and irregularities
surrounding the deals. These are causing our standing irreparable damage
worldwide. Public figures who were once held in high esteem, are now under
suspicion and the public’s confidence and trust in its leaders will suffer
a serious blow, especially because of the government’s tardiness in
addressing the allegations. Nationally
and internationally our commitment to tackle corruption without fear or
favour will no longer be taken seriously.
On top of all this South Africa is now becoming an exporter of arms to illegitimate regimes.
HOW MUCH DO WE SPEND ON ARMS AND DEBT?
HOW MUCH DO WE SPEND ON ESSENTIAL SERVICES?
Source: Information kindly provided by Ceasefire Campaign, Johannesburg, Rep. South Africa.