DA Urges Mbeki to Speak on Arms Probe
PRETORIA -- The Democratic Alliance urged President Thabo Mbeki yesterday to break his silence on whether he supported the 'super' investigation into South Africa's controversial R43,8 billion arms deal.
In a speech prepared for delivery here, DA chief whip Douglas Gibson said Mbeki and Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota should tell the public whether they supported the investigation into the deal.
"They should break their silence and advise the public of South Africa whether the investigation carries their support, whether the investigation will be properly funded and when we can expect an outcome. "No news is bad news. The public has a right to be informed by those who are responsible for spending the people's money."
Lekota is on record that he supports the investigation, although questions have been raised about Mbeki's commitment after a newspaper reported that the minister in the presidency, Essop Pahad, had attempted to scupper the investigation.
Pahad has repeatedly denied the allegations as "a litany of lies". Gibson said the DA supported the individual investigations that had been launched into the deal. However, it was vital that these investigations should be properly coordinated, he said.
Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee has called for a 'super' investigation together with four independent investigative units into the defence procurement package following widespread allegations of corruption.
Gibson said the investigation must not be allowed to drag on, if South Africa's reputation for acting against corruption was to survive. "Allegations have been made of gross irregularities in the appointment of sub-contractors, and there have been suggestions that millions of rands have stuck to dishonest fingers." Gibson said Parliament and the public had been assured that the process of adjudication and awarding of contracts was receiving the closest attention at the highest level of the departments of defence, trade and industry and finance.
"If the allegations were true, it would mean a grave dereliction of duty on the part of officials and politicians and perhaps some family or friends."
With acknowledgement to Sapa and the Daily Dispatch.