'SA has deal to supply Zim with helicopters'

Defence Minster says Afriforum's court action against sending helicopters to Zim was regrettable.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Monday said AfriForum should have talked to her first before deciding to go to court about the supply of helicopters by the defence force to the Zimbabwean army.

A court ruled that no helicopter or spares could be sent to Zimbabwe until a full hearing could be held on 19 February.

Zimbabwe is also subject to a European Union arms embargo.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the helicopters and spare parts are part of an agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe to supply military parts when needed.

The Minister said the decision by Afriforum to go to court about the supply of helicopters is regrettable because she could have given them the answers they were looking for.

"We made a pledge to these countries that we would assist them and that's what we were doing. AfriFoum should have come to us for clarity."

Mapisa-Nqakula said South Africa is giving similar support to Nambia and Mozambique.

She is currently attending the African Union summit because the summit needs to make crucial decisions about the beefing up of a military presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Some have expressed concern that the helicopters could be used by Zanu-PF during the upcoming Zimbabwean elections.

The 2008 general elections in that country were marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.