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FF+ welcomes resignation of Aristide’s pilot from Denel

The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on Monday welcomed the resignation of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s pilot, Franz Gabriel, from Denel, saying his exposure to the country’s ”extremely sophisticated” information on weaponry was ”unacceptable”.

Gabriel resigned from his position as marketing developer at the arms manufacturer Denel amid concerns about his appointment and him being granted top security clearance by the government.

It is standard policy in South Africa not to give foreign citizens top security clearance, particularly if they have only lived in South Africa for such a short time.

”With this clearance Mr Gabriel had access to any information on extremely sophisticated weaponry and systems of South Africa, which is unacceptable especially as he is a foreigner,” said FF+ spokesperson on defence, Pieter Groenewald.

”It is the policy of the South African government not to grant foreigners top secret clearance. The reason being that if you give it to a foreigner, what loyalties do they have to the country?”

Groenewald said when he enquired about Gabriel’s appointment as sales consultant for Denel, Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said he had been chosen because of his experience as a pilot, his degree in aeronautical science, and his fluency in French.

He said Gabriel had been dispatched to work in the Francophone part of Africa as the region was a strategic and growing market for the arms manufacturer.

The minister also refused to disclose Gabriel’s remuneration package saying the matter was between him and his employer, Denel.

Denel spokesperson Priya Pillay refused to comment on Monday saying that the matter was ”an operational issue”.

This is despite the company being a public entity.

”If Director Generals and other senior officials’ salaries are public knowledge, Mr Gabriel’s’ salary should also have been made public,” said Groenewald said.

He said the such appointments took away job opportunities from South Africans especially given the very high unemployment rate.

Groenewald said Gabriel’s appointment proved that the South African government would ”act to the detriment of South African citizens in the interest of a friendship with a deposed president”. – Sapa

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