Defence Department Plays Down Shaik's Role
He played one small role in a big programme' driven
THE defence department has played down the role
of weapons procurement chief Chippy Shaik in the R43bn arms deal, saying other
state officials had far greater influence in the purchasing process.
The department was reacting yesterday to claims that
Shaik played a key role in the selection of subcontractors, and faced a conflict
of interest because his brother Shabir Shaik was a director of African Defence
One of Shaik's accusers is C²I² Systems MD Richard
Young. The company won some subcontracts but lost others. The department said
Young has been threatening legal action for about two years, and he should go
ahead if he believes he has a case. Young has submitted his allegations to
members of the Parliamentary public accounts committee, and the
auditor-general's office for investigation.
The department said that Shaik played "one
small role in a big programme" driven by cabinet. Technical discussions on
the arms purchase were led by then Armscor CEO Llewellyn Swan, and he was the
"real decision maker", the department said. The department refuted
claims Shaik supervised the process leading to the selection of subcontractors
for the corvette combat suite. The supervision was done by Swan and then SA navy
chief Robert Simpson-Anderson, it said.
The department said that Shaik played a supporting
role to Swan, and was the co-ordinator between the departments of finance, trade
and industry, Armscor and the navy. Shaik took no decisions, and performed the
task of taking the recommendations and decisions of lower bodies to higher
forums for approval.
The department said that Shaik recused himself from
meetings when potential conflicts of interest arose. This was in line with the
way the state tender board operated. The department said it should be noted that
ADS won the combat suite contract in 1999, before Shabir became a director.
Shaik held one meeting with Young where there could have been a potential
conflict of interest. However, the meeting was held at the request of Young.
Shaik felt he should hear Young's complaints because
this is what "natural justice" demanded. Young was aware of the
potential conflict of interest, but he still wanted to discuss his concerns with
Shaik, the department said.
ADS is owned by French electronics group Thomson,
which also owns Detexis. Detexis won a subcontract for the combat suite's
information management system after Cape Town-based C²I² Systems was
Auditor-General Shauket Fakie last year voiced
concerns about the selection of Detexis, saying a forensic audit of the
subcontract was needed.
The department denied claims that government was
responsible for the choice of Detexis. The German Frigate Consortium, which
includes ADS-Thomson, recommended the Detexis system. Government was told at the
time that if it wanted the subcontract to go to C²I² Systems, it would have to
carry the entire risk because the company's technology was untested.
With acknowledgement to Farouk Chothia and