Questions Regarding Empty Shell Produced by Arms Enquiry
English Translation for : Vrae oor Leë Dop wat Wapenondersoek Oplewer
What is the big fuss over the arms deal?
Has the taxpayer paid millions of rands for the enquiry simply to learn that Mr Tony Yengeni, ANC chief whip, received a discounted Mercedes Benz?
This could be asked with reason if the public enquiry, that came to an end under leadership of Adv. Selby Baqwa (Public Protector) on Friday, is any indication of what the whole investigation into the controversial transaction of R43 billion is going to deliver.
Critics such as Ms Judith February from IDASA has warned from the beginning that the public enquiry would simply set a stage for the Defence Force and Government to convince the public that all is well.
She is not at all surprised that the public hearings have not produced anything new, since the enquiry has not been thought through properly and also witnesses have not been called in a specific order so as to allow the public to follow the "story".
Mr Andrew Feinstein, ANC MP who resigned as a result of the way in which the ANC and the government were handling the arms enquiry, has last week described the public hearings as a "fiasco".
Dr Richard Young, a key witness regarding allegations of conflict of interest as well as the only independent witness in the public enquiry, was torn to shreds by legal representatives of the various roleplayers.
Young was the person who accused Mr Chippy Shaik, Chief of Acquisitions, that he did not recuse himself from meetings in which his brother Mr Shabir Shaik’s interests had been discussed.
Shabir is a director of African Defence Systems (ADS), whose sister company, Detexis, had won the contract which Young had thought to have been clinched by his company CCII Systems.
The fact that Chippy’s brother is a roleplayer in the arms deal, does however not prove anything, since to proof that it had an influence in the awarding of the contracts, is almost impossible.
This actually highlights an important matter. Young was the first witness to be called for cross-examination and who had to withstand the sharp tongues of lawyers and advocates.
Me Raenette Taljaard, DA spokesperson for Public Accounts, said Messrs Alec Erwin, Minister of Trade and Industry, Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defence, as well as other senior roleplayers were never called for cross-examination.
She feels that this creates the impression that witnesses at the public hearings were not treated equally.
February was of the opinion that the lack of proper cross-examination was the reason why the public enquiry had not produced anything.
One should not loose sight of the fact that the public part of the enquiry only represents one leg thereof.
The forensic investigation by the Auditor-General, as well as the investigation into possible wrongdoing by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, are happening behind closed doors.
February is of the opinion that the public phase of the investigation has diverted the attention away from these investigations, which will hopefully answer the questions that could not be answered by the public hearings.
One can only hope that the answers to allegations by the witnesses in these investigations are being tested thoroughly - as was Young’s allegations during the public hearings.
This will be clarified later this month when the investigators report to parliament.
With acknowledgement to Andries Cornelisson and Rapport.