Millions for MK Veterans go Astray
|Publication||Mail and Guardian|
MYSTERY surrounds the whereabouts of millions of
rands donated by British Aerospace (BAe) to the Umkhonto weSizwe Military
Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), a few months before the company was named as
the preferred bidder to supply jets to South Africa as part of the R43bn arms
Inquiries directed to a number of senior
officials of the veteran’s association and to one of its founding trustees,
former defence minister Joe Modise, went unanswered this week. More than two
years after the cash was handed over, many veterans have received no benefit
from the funds.
In terms of a memorandum of understanding between
the MKMVA and BAe, signed in March 1998, the aerospace giant handed over R5m in
cash. BAe promised many more millions of rands in training and support for
members of the association.
Using the cash injection from BAe, a big
industrial park and housing estate was to be constructed south of Johannesburg,
near Orange Farm. The site chosen was Doornkuil Farm - a site the MKMVA claimed
it owned through a company called the Veterans Heritage Investments Limited.
However, a search of the Deeds Office shows Veterans Heritage Investments owns
no property anywhere in the country.
In terms of the donation, more than 20 000 MK
veterans should have been given training in a variety of skills, including
metalwork and construction. BAe also offered to make the 20 000 trained veterans
preferred suppliers of products to their own production programme.
At the time of the signing, BAe had not been
named preferred bidder in the South African arms contract. The memorandum
nevertheless mentions how the veterans could contribute toward the production of
the Hawk and the Gripen.
This week BAe representative Linden Birns said
that while money had indeed been handed over to MKMVA, no construction had yet
begun. Said Birns: “There was a little bit of a problem around the land for
the development, but that has been sorted out and everything should be moving
ahead soon.” Asked if the deal, which effectively gave money to an African
National Congress body while BAe was bidding for government work, was not
tantamount to bribery, Birns denied anything improper had occurred.
Association treasurer general Dumisane Khosa said
the Doornkuil Farm project was still on the cards. While none of the R5m from
BAe had found its way to veterans, the money had not been spent or misused and
was in a trust account.
With acknowledgement to Paul Kirk and the Daily Mail & Guardian.