Publication: SABC News Issued: Date: 2001-01-17 Reporter: Editor:

Mbeki Delays Decision on Heath Unit 

Publication  SABC News
Date 2001-01-17
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President Thabo Mbeki has delayed his decision on the investigating units that should probe South Africa's controversial R43 billion arms deal, the presidency said today.

"There will be no announcement today (Wednesday). It could possible happen tomorrow (Thursday)," Nazeem Mahatey, a presidential spokesperson said in Pretoria.

He said Mbeki had requested more information on the issue, and was expected to brief Cabinet members on the matter during a Cabinet committee meeting today.

Earlier indications were that Mbeki might announce after this meeting whether he agreed that the unit headed by Judge Willem Heath be excluded from the arms probe.

Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee late last year called for allegations of corruption in the arms deal to be investigated by the Auditor General, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Public Protector and the Heath special investigating unit.

Penuell Maduna, justice minister, on Monday advised Mbeki to exclude the Heath unit. Among others, he cited a recent Constitutional Court ruling that Heath's position as head of the unit was unconstitutional.

Issuing a proclamation enabling the Heath unit to investigate the arms deal would fly in the face of the Constitutional Court judgment, Maduna said.

Mahatey said Mbeki yesterday asked all the investigating agencies, including Heath's unit, for further information on the matter. "They were given until today (Wednesday) to do so. That is the reason for the delay," Mahatey said.

The Heath unit yesterday rejected Maduna's reasons for his recommendation, and said it would make its own representations to the president.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and SABC News.