Till now, the Presidency has refused to either confirm or deny an international media report which alleges that South African President Jacob Zuma together with his Saudi Arabian counterpart officially merged to open a weapons factory during his visit to the country last month.
According to the report which was published on the website, South Africa’s military equipment manufacturer Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) and Saudi Military Industries Corporation (Samic) had joined forces in the weapons factory venture.
“According to the Saudi Press Agency, the facility, which is in the Al-Kharj military industrial complex south of Riyadh, was officially opened by South African President Jacob Zuma and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during his state visit to the kingdom last week,” the article, dated April 6, 2016 stated.
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.
Meanwhile, attempt to get a comment on the matter from Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola proved abortive
Instead of commenting on the media report, Majola referred reporters to a media release where it was stated by the Presidency that Zuma’s visit to Saudi Arabia boosted the relations between the two countries.
“In addition, the two countries’ agreement to work together and ensure closer bilateral intelligence co-operation, in particular relation to the regional terrorism threat to domestic and regional security and stability,” the media report read.
Majola avoided commenting on the report. Questions were first sent to him concerning the matter on Friday, April 8, and he had still not responded by Wednesday, April 13.
Also, SA National Defence Force could not provide any clarity on the report and referred further inquiries to the presidency.