DA Joins the Queue to Investigate Government's Arms Deal
Yet another investigation of the the government's controversial R44 billion arms acquisitions deal has been set in motion, with the appointment by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon of a "working group to consider the deal".
The deal, signed in late 1999, has been the subject of repeated corruption claims. Last week, parliament's watchdog public accounts committee released a report calling for a super-investigation into all aspects of the procurement deal. The committee also took Cabinet to task for failing to disclose that the costs could escalate, and said it believes there may have been "undue influence" in awarding the prime contracts.
The committee will be meeting representatives of five investigative units next week to map out a strategy for a joint probe into the deal. A closed meeting is scheduled for November 13 in Pretoria and is expected to include the Heath anti-corruption unit head Judge Willem Heath, Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, the Investigating Directorate of Serious Economic Offences, Public Protector Selby Baqwa, and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
Committee's chairman Gavin Woods told Sapa on Monday that the meeting will discuss the scope of the investigation and which units will be involved. Representatives of the committee will also hand over information collected during its probe into the deal.
The DA said in a statement on Wednesday that it had supported the defence acquisitions "in order to save the navy and to ensure that the SANDF had the firepower required in a subcontinent which is very far from stable. That support could be withdrawn if we are not completely satisfied by the result of the investigation.
"If any new information becomes available to us, we will turn it over to the public protector or to any of the other investigating authorities." Cabinet said in September last year that the cost would total R29.9 billion, which was adjusted to R30.3 billion two months later and which - including exchange rate and inflation costs - rose in September this year to R43.8 billion.
Last month, defence officials were grilled for seven hours by members of the parliamentary committee. This followed Fakie's special report to parliament, which found that generally accepted procurement practices had not been followed. Fakie also recommended a special forensic audit into the deal's subcontracts. - WOZA reporter.
With acknowledgement to Woza.