Publication: Financial Mail Issued: Date: 2000-11-03 Reporter: Editor:

Parliament Urges Fresh Scrutiny of Arms Deal

Publication  Financial Mail
Date 2000-11-03
Web Link

The parliamentary public accounts committee, having cast an inquisitorial eye over the controversial R30bn arms deal, has recommended a multidimensional investigation by at least five independent agencies, including the Auditor-General, the Heath Commission and the Office for Serious Economic Offences. 

The committee specifically stipulates that the agencies conduct "forensic investigations" into the deal. It has thus mandated them to examine whether criminally liable offences were committed during the wheeling and dealing which led to the agreement between the weapons procurement committee and the international companies supplying the weapons (and the subcontractors associated with them).

Though government can theoretically reject the committee's recommendations, they are for all intents and purposes binding. The committee exercises its watchdog responsibility from parliament as the corporate representative of the electorate, on which government authority ultimately rests. The composition of the 16-member committee reflects party political representation in parliament. Therefore its recommendations are those of the  ANC majority in its ranks, as well as the representatives of the smaller parties.

The FM welcomes the recommendations. The processes of governance must be seen to be untainted by even the slightest trace of dishonesty, especially where they involve the outlay of huge sums of money for weapons from powerful companies with large purses.

The purchase - and sale of - arms is morally controversial enough as it is. 

With acknowledgement to the Financial Mail.