Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2001-03-02 Reporter: Paul Kirk Editor:

Millions for MK Veterans go Astray

Publication  Mail and Guardian
Date 2001-03-02

Paul Kirk

Web Link

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 deal. 

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.