Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2000-11-15 Reporter: Bonile Ngqivaza Editor:

Committee to Focus on Arms Deal

Publication  Business Day
Date 2000-11-15
Reporter Bonile Ngqivaza
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SA's R43bn arms deal will again be the focus of Parliament's public accounts standing committee on Monday at a meeting to consider the basis on which a proposed probe will be conducted.

Five investigative agencies met this week to work out details of the probe and the finances needed to pursue a successful investigation. Judge Willem Heath, head of the special investigating unit into corruption, Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, Public Protector Selby Baqwa and representatives of the Investigations Directorate: Serious Economic Offences  and the National Prosecuting Authority met interested parties to determine the structure of the forensic investigation into the arms deal on Monday.

Gavin Woods, chairman of the standing committee on public accounts, Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille who first levelled allegations of corruption three years ago, and Terence Nombembe, CEO in the auditor-general's office, were at the meeting.

Woods said Monday's meeting would be followed up with another probably today during which the legal mandates of the various investigation units would be considered. The standing committee strongly criticised cabinet last month after it appeared the original cost of the contracts increased from R30bn to R43,8bn  in the past year. It questioned why this was not made public.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Office of the President, Essop Pahad, dismissed as a "litany of lies" claims that he tried to derail the proposed investigation. Pahad was quoted expressing concern that President Thabo Mbeki had been named in the allegations before the committee and allowing the probe to proceed would tarnish his image.

With acknowledgement to Bonile Ngqiyaza and Business Day