Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2000-11-13 Reporter: Howard Barrell Reporter: Barry Streek Editor:

Ex-Minister got R10m "Bung"

Publication  Mail & Guardian
Date 2000-11-13
Reporter Howard Barrell & Barry Streek
Web Link

Some of the allegations - if proven true - could topple the government.

A former Cabinet minister is named on the Internet as having received R10-million for facilitating the purchase of corvettes from Germany in South Africa's controversial R43,8-billion arms deal. 

The local and foreign websites also name a senior African National Congress MP as having been one of a group of South African politicians and officials who received the foreign equivalent of R11-million from a  European armaments manufacturer as a first "success" fee for the award of another contract in the deal.

The sites also say that, in June last year, the Coalition for Defence Alternatives (CDA), a South African-based grouping of NGOs and religious  organisations based in Cape Town, "was approached by ANC intelligence operatives on behalf of ANC MPs" who "declared they had knowledge and evidence of massive corruption" related to the arms deal "involving senior politicians and government officials".

The allegations are contained in three documents on the Internet sites, written by the CDA.

Meanwhile, MPs and the state agencies involved in the high-level investigation into the foreign arms deal are to meet in Pretoria on Monday to lay the basis for cooperation among them. The range and seriousness of some of the allegations could - if proven true - even topple President Thabo Mbeki's government. Top officials from the Office of the Auditor-General, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Judge Willem Heath's commission into instances of corruption, the National Intelligence Agency and the Office for Serious Economic Offences, among others, are to meet senior members of Parliament's public accounts committee to decide how best to coordinate their various powers and to divide up the investigation among them.

Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille, who was among the first to suggest impropriety in the arms deal, will be at Monday's meeting. The CDA documents also name a number of government leaders and their relatives as providing a link to powerful Saudi Arabian interests associated with other commercial deals, including the allocation of South Africa's third cellphone licence.

Investigators are understood to have been inundated with allegations from a variety of sources which suggest that a group of ANC notables has benefited financially from a series of interlinked deals spanning the armaments, oil, telecommunications, taxi and electronics industries. In addition to the documents written by the CDA, a number of other reports containing allegations of impropriety against specified individuals involved in the arms deal are understood to be in public circulation.

The Cabinet minister named on the Internet allegedly received the R10-million for signing the contract with Germany for the construction of corvettes for the South African navy at an initial cost of R6-billion, with counter-trade deals worth a notional R16-billion.

 The CDA also calls for the closure of Denel, the state-owned arms enterprise. The thrust of its argument is that individuals are profiting improperly from state armaments contracts and that the state-owned arms industry, despite massive investments over the years, is running at a heavy loss at the expense of the taxpayer.

With acknowledgement to Howard Barrel, Barry Streek and the Mail & Guardian.