Publication: Issued: Date: 2001-12-06 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Influence Possible in Arms Deal - Investigators


Date 2001-12-06
Reporter Sapa
Web Link


The joint investigating team (JIT), during the second day of questioning by MPs on Wednesday, acknowledged that there may have been a potential risk of an individual influencing the contracts chosen in the arms deal.

But the three agencies had found no evidence to suggest any single person had, in fact, influenced the selection process, Public Protector Selby Baqwa said.

He was replying to a question from Democratic Alliance public accounts spokesperson Raenette Taljaard on whether suspended defence acquisition chief Chippy Shaik could have influenced the awarding of contracts.

"Potentially, looking at the process... (there) is room for an individual to affect the process... this was a question that agonised our minds."

The JIT had probed this possibility and found no evidence that he had influenced any of the contracts signed in the multi-billion rand deal.

"I'm not saying he (Shaik) didn't do it, but we didn't find any evidence that he did," Baqwa said.

Auditor-General Shauket Fakie said the investigators had left no stone unturned in probing Shaik's role in the process, including issuing him with 40 pages of questions and cross-examining him for two days.

He suggested that if the DA was not satisfied with the finding they were welcome to investigate themselves.

"If you (Taljaard) believe you can take this matter further you are more than welcome to," Fakie said.

Baqwa and Fakie were briefing the members of seven parliamentary committees - defence, justice, finance, trade and industry, ethics, public service and administration and the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) - on their report on the deal, tabled in Parliament last month.

For the second day running yesterday, the briefing was characterised by the DA complaints that its members had not been given enough time to quiz the investigators, despite their questions dominating proceedings on both days.

Scopa chairman Dr Gavin Woods - who took little part in the proceedings - said during a break that the interaction with the investigators "has taken us forward a little in answering the bigger questions that the public want answered".

It was up to the committees, and Scopa in particular, to say what happened next. The committee would either decide to investigate further or decide that "this is as far as we go".

The JIT had not performed a "full exercise" in investigating whether Shaik had influenced the contracts signed, nor on the cost of the deal to the state and the industrial participation projects.

"But we have to acknowledge that they have done some work and that it (the investigation) has taken us forward a little," he said.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and