Publication: Sunday Argus Issued: Date: 2000-11-12 Reporter: Sam Sole & John Matisonn Editor:

Pahad in Attempt to Derail Arms Deal

Publication  Sunday Argus
Date 2000-11-12
Reporter Sam Sole & John Matisonn

Pahad in attempt to derail arms deal 
But deputy president orders investigation to continue

Minister in the President's Office Essop Pahad this week launched an attempt to derail the proposed public accounts committee investigation into South Africa's R43-billion arms deal. 

At a meeting of the ANC's governance committee on Thursday, Mr Pahad spoke out strongly against the proposed investigation, which is expected to include a full forensic audit. ANC sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr Pahad had stated the president had been named in the allegations put to the public accounts committee and that to allow the probe to proceed could tarnish his image. 

The public accounts committee is due to meet tomorrow with the auditor general, the Heath unit, the public protector and Bulelani Ngcuka's investigating directorate for serious economic offences to work out a strategy for a joint investigation of queries raised about the process and probity of the arms tender. The sources said it appeared that Mr Pahad could have swayed the meeting - which was called to discuss the ANC's position on the arms probe - but was rebuffed by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Mr Zuma apparently said that it was not President Thabo Mbeki who was named in some allegations but his brother. 

The president would undoubtedly want the probe to go ahead so that his (family) name could be cleared, Mr Zuma said. Mr Zuma also rebuffed an attack on ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, who played a prominent role in the October committee hearing on the deal which led to the decision to recommend a full investigation. At the ANC meeting Mr Feinstein was apparently accused of acting without a mandate.

Mr Zuma countered that Mr Feinstein had consulted both with him and with the ANC's chairperson, Defence Minister Mosioua Lekota. Mr Zuma said that ANC chief whip, Tony Yengeni, had also been named in the allegations and should not attempt to obstruct the investigation. Mr Yengeni had apparently earlier also resisted the probe, saying it could cause divisions in the ANC. 

As chief whip of parliament he had initially refused to authorise travel expenses for members of the public accounts committee to travel to Pretoria tomorrow. After Mr Zuma's intervention, he reversed this position. Public accounts committee chair Gavin Woods said he had been "aware of political pressures being imposed on groupings within the committee".

With acknowledgement to Sapa and the Cape Argus.