Pahad Denies Attempt to Derail Arms Probe
CAPE TOWN — Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad dismissed claims that he tried to derail the proposed investigation into SA’s controversial R30bn arms deal. Speaking on SABC’s AM Live on Monday, he described the report as a "litany of lies".
However, Pahad also said he was "greatly saddened by the fact that there are people who act as informants for the media". The Sunday Independent, quoting African National Congress (ANC) sources, reported that at last week’s meeting of the party’s governance committee, Pahad spoke out strongly against the proposed investigation.
Pahad said that President Thabo Mbeki had been named in the allegations before the Parliament’s watchdog public accounts committee and that to allow the probe to proceed would tarnish his image, the newspaper reported.
Deputy President Jacob Zuma apparently rebuffed Pahad’s argument, saying it was not the president who was named in the allegations, but his brother, and that the president would undoubtedly want the probe to go ahead so that his family name could be cleared.
Pahad said it was even sadder when the information that the informants purported to give to the media “is nothing but a tissue of lies”. "I absolutely deny what was said in the report. It is just a litany of lies." Pahad also sought to differentiate between the presidency and the ANC governance committee which met regularly “to look at Parliament and what is happening in Parliament”.
"It is the task of the ANC governance committee to give leadership where it thinks it should give leadership," he said. The ANC like any other political party "must have the right to meet and must have the right to meet in closed session".
"It was a meeting held in closed session and so it had nothing to do with the president’s office. I am a member of the governance committee of the ANC," Pahad said. On whether the investigation had been discussed at the meeting, he said: "No I cannot give an indication of what was said, because it was a closed meeting."
"What I can tell you is what the report purported to have been said by me was a tissue of lies. That I am prepared to repeat over and over again." Pahad said the ANC would never take a position where it would interfere in any investigation of corruption or fraud either in government or the private sector.
"The ANC will never ever interfere in such investigations and probes, that is quite clear". Pahad also criticised the two senior journalists who wrote the report, accusing them of "shoddy journalism". "They never checked with me as to whether or not, there was any truth in the story."
The public accounts committee meets in Pretoria on Monday morning with the Heath anti-corruption unit, the auditor-general, the public protector, the national director of public prosecutions and the investigating directorate for serious economic offences.
It is hoped that a joint strategy to investigate the arms deal will be worked out. Public Accounts committee chairman Gavin Woods, of the Inkatha Freedom Party, is on record as saying he is aware of "political pressures being imposed on groupings within the committee". — Sapa.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.