Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2002-01-22 Reporter: Linda Ensor Editor:

Aggrieved Arms Deal Bidder Acts Against Fakie

 

Publication  Business Day
Date 2002-01-22
Reporter Linda Ensor
Web Link www.bday.co.za

 

CAPE TOWN One of the aggrieved bidders in the state's arms procurement programme, Richard Young, the MD of CI Systems, instituted legal action against Auditor-General Shauket Fakie yesterday over his refusal to hand over documents related to the investigation into the arms deal.

Both Young and the Democratic Alliance's spokeswoman on public accounts, Raenette Taljaard, requested copies of the draft arms probe report before it was submitted to the cabinet to see what changes had been made.

They also requested several other documents under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Fakie refused on the grounds of confidentiality, the amount of work required in answering them and the defence and security needs of SA. Young immediately instructed his lawyers to contest the refusal in the Cape High Court on the grounds that Fakie had not properly applied his mind to the matter.

Fakie said he would defend any court action. He had refused the request because "information was provided to me in strict confidence by third parties".

He rejected other requests, saying "the number of documents requested is too vast and processing your request would substantially and unreasonably divert our resources from our core business".

But Young said Fakie's reasons were "ridiculous and garbled". He did not think Fakie was entitled to refuse flatly access to all the information requested on confidentiality grounds when this did not apply in all cases. The reason of work overload was "pathetic". "The auditor-general clearly has something to hide by refusing access to the requested documents," Young said.

Taljaard was angered by Fakie's comment that her requests were "frivolous and vexatious" because of the amount of work required to answer them. "His refusal rests on very flimsy and tenuous grounds," Taljaard said.

Fakie had acted not as an agent of transparency and an agent of public interest, but had used the Promotion of Access to Information Act "as a shield to prevent disclosure".

With acknowledgement to Linda Ensor and Business Day.