Tony, You're on your Own
|Publication||Mail & Guardian|
SOUTH Africa's justice minister declared on
Monday the government would not protect a top ruling party official if he were
found guilty of corruption in the country's controversial arms deal.
The statement followed confirmation on Monday
that a luxury car belonging to the chief whip of the African National Congress,
Tony Yengeni, was bought by a senior member of a company that benefited from the
R47bn arms deal.
"We won't protect Tony Yengeni ... if indeed
you have the necessary evidence against him," Justice Minister Penuell
Maduna told reporters in Pretoria. "If you know the corrupt ones who
participated in the armaments deal, tell this country in public. It does not
matter who it is, even if it is me, I won't molest you because I shall have been
arrested," Maduna said.
The arms deal is currently the subject of an
official investigation but the government has so far maintained that allegations
of graft were a smear campaign.
Officials from the three government agencies
probing the deal - the Public Protector, the Auditor General and the Director
for Public Prosecutions - on Monday held a routine meeting for four hours in
Pretoria on progress in their joint investigation.
"One could assume that the allegations
against Mr. Yengeni also featured," representative Lynette van Rooyen said.
Parliament called for the probe after documents
were circulated in the legislature alleging that large-scale corruption in the
making of the deal, including bribery.
DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) confirmed on
Monday that Yengeni's Mercedes Benz four-wheel drive, valued at R359 000 rand
was bought by a senior DASA staff member and registered in Yengeni's name three
Yengeni once chaired parliament's defence
committee which played a key role in government's controversial decision to buy
fighter aircraft, submarines and patrol boats to upgrade the post-apartheid
DASA was eventually incorporated into the
multi-national European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), which was awarded a
R220m sub-contract to supply naval tracking radar as part of the arms deal.
The official opposition Democratic Alliance has
called on Yengeni to explain his situation or step down from his post.
The ANC on Monday said it would not suspend
Yengeni until the investigation is complete. - AFP
With acknowledgement to the Daily Mail and