Cape Town, South Africa

The Democratic Alliance is using the Promotion of Access to Information Act to “get to the bottom of the Haiti arms shipment fiasco”, DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said on Monday.

“We have today submitted a request to the Department of Defence in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for the records pertaining to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee’s [NCACC] approval of the shipment of arms to Haiti,” he said in a statement.

On Sunday, Minister of Education and NCACC chairperson Kader Asmal said the shipment left South Africa with the full consent of the committee.

“However, this was contradicted by a member of Minister Asmal’s committee,” Selfe said.

“NCACC member Fred Marais said in an interview on 702 Talk Radio last Thursday — prior to the government’s confirmation last Friday that the shipment of arms intended for Haitian police had been flown to Jamaica — that he had no knowledge of an arms shipment to Haiti, that a permit would have had to be issued by the committee, but that no application had been received from any government department.”

Selfe said there had been a number of conflicting reports about the arms shipment, but this should easily be cleared up with the proper information.

Therefore, the DA had requested the minutes of the last three NCACC meetings, including the meeting authorising the provision of arms to Haiti.

It also wanted any further particulars of record, including the actual date of issue, and a copy of the permit authorising the provision of arms to Haiti, which criteria of the National Conventional Arms Control Act were considered when granting the application, and who was in attendance at the meeting that authorised the provision of arms to Haiti.

“If members of the African National Congress government have broken the law by trying to help prop up the [former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand] Aristide regime, then they must own up to this and face the consequences.

“If they haven’t, then they have nothing to hide, and they should provide all the details explaining how approval was given for an arms shipment to a rights-delinquent regime,” Selfe said. — Sapa