The Presidency has finally broken the silence and confirmed on Friday that South Africa is indeed in a joint military co-operation with Saudi Arabia. This follows a pictorial proof that President Jacob Zuma opened weapons factory in Saudi which South Africa’s Denel has a 49% stake in.
In the photos, Zuma was captured touring a weapons factory with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence.
The Saudi weapons factory is operated by Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
“The visit sought to promote South Africa’s defence military industry and strengthen areas of co-operation in the field of defence procurement partnership between South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” the Presidency threw more light on the matter in a statement.
During the Saudi weapons factory visit, Zuma and Bin Salman unveiled a beehive of the military facility. He also met with and took photographs with personnel and senior management of the Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
Despite several reports on Thursday that one of the pictures taken at the unveiling showed SA Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and State Security Minister David Mahlobo, the Presidency failed to either deny or confirm the report published on Defense News. The news states that Zuma opened Saudi weapons factory in collaboration with his Saudi Arabian counterpart.
The only statement that was extracted from the Presidency was that Zuma’s visit to the country had given a significant boost to the relations between South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
“In addition, the two countries agreed to work to ensure closer bilateral intelligence co-operation, in particular in relation to the regional terrorism threat to domestic and regional security and stability,” the statement read.
According to reports, the products expected to be produced in the factory include mortars, artillery shells and aircraft-borne bombs, weighing up to 907kg. These products would mainly be used by the Saudi defence forces. The possibility of exporting some of these weapons to other countries is not yet clear.