Arms Deal Investigation Given Green Light
Gavin Woods, parliament's Public Accounts Committee chairman yesterday said he was satisfied with preparations to launch a landmark probe into South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal.
He was speaking after several hours of discussion behind closed doors between the Public Accounts Committee and several investigation agencies. The structure of the investigation is expected to become clear over the next few days.
The Public Accounts Committee met in Pretoria yesterday. In attendance was Shaukat Fakie, Auditor-General, Judge Willem Heath, Selby Baqwa, Public Protector, the Investigative Directorate of Serious Economic Offences and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
South Africa's intention to purchase R30-billion worth of German corvettes and Anglo Swedish jet fighters stirred huge controversy when news of the plan first surfaced.
Under pressure from those who argued that social spending was more of a priority, government justified the deal by saying that it would involve R104 billion in investment and counter-trade offsets, including the creation of 65 000 new jobs.
Now, almost a year after the deal was signed, parliament's Public Accounts Committee is gearing up for a ground-breaking investigation into allegations of corruption involving government officials.
In its report to Parliament dated October 30, the Committee also took cabinet to task about the escalating cost of the deal. In September last year, cabinet said the defence package would cost R29,9 billion. Two months later this increased to R30,3 billion. And by September this year, the cost had risen to R43,8 billion.
Woods said the meeting was satisfactory and that they are looking at the possibilities of close co-operation between all investigation agencies. He made it clear that the investigation will be, as he put it, "wide, comprehensive and cross-cutting". - SABC
With acknowledgement to SABC.