Jordan Doubts Yengeni Tried to Scupper Arms Probe
AFRICAN National Congress MP Pallo Jordan said he seriously doubted that his party’s chief whip Tony Yengeni would try to quash a “super” investigation into the country’s controversial R43bn arms deal.
Similar allegations have been levelled at Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad, who has dismissed the claims as a “litany of lies”. Speaking on the SABC’s Newsmaker programme on Sunday, Jordan said a special report by Auditor-General Shauket Fakie which sparked the investigation by Parliament’s watchdog public accounts committee, was at the insistence of Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.
“I think that demonstrates a commitment by the ANC government to root out corruption. “What the chief whip is doing or not doing — I have not yet read today’s newspapers — but I would seriously doubt Mr Yengeni would want to play such a role.”
Yengeni had kept well out of any activities of the public accounts committee. “So I don’t see how he could be putting pressure on members of that committee,” Jordan said. Yengeni’s spokesman Dennis Cruywagen said he had yet to his principal.
However, he repeated there was no attempt by anybody to stop the investigation. A report allegedly drawn up by disgruntled ANC members and leaked to PAC MP Patricia de Lille last year, fingered Yengeni and a host of other ANC leaders as having received kickbacks.
Yengeni was formerly the chairman of Parliament’s joint committee on defence. Lekota said at the time he had consulted all government and ANC parties against whom allegations had been levelled, “and I am satisfied that there is not a shred of truth in any of these accusations”.
A Sunday newspaper quoting unnamed ANC sources said Yengeni and other senior party leaders had told ANC members of the public accounts committee that the probe was not in the interest of the ANC and government.
It repeated claims made in another weekend newspaper two weeks ago, that attempts to strong-arm the committee members had been rebuffed by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Zuma has apparently also told Yengeni to stop interfering.
Yengeni reportedly refused to authorise travel expenses for members of the public accounts committee to travel to Pretoria for a meeting with four independent investigating units tasked with proving the deal. They include the Public Proctor, the Heath Anti-Corruption Unit, The Investigating Directorate: Serious Economic Offences and the Auditor-General.
Yengeni later reversed the decision after Zuma intervened.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.