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Vol 38 No 18

Published 12th September 1997


South Africa

Trading arms

The defence industry wants politicians – even Nelson Mandela – to become arms salesmen

Defence Minister Joe Modise wants to buy new equipment for the South African National Defence Force, which he says is in decline. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel counters that the money is needed for welfare and related projects in the run-up to the 1999 national elections. Modise has found a way out. The cabinet has given him the green light in principle to buy the equipment, provided he can raise the money elsewhere. Modise says he can do that through arms exports. Salesmen of the state-owned arms marketer Denel have been scouring the Middle and Far East in search of customers. They did find a good customer in Syria for tank night-fighting kits but enraged reactions from the United States and Israel put paid to that.

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