Lekota Kept Public in Dark on Arms Cost
JOHANNESBURG - Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota yesterday could not directly answer why the public was not informed that the cost of South Africa's controversial arms deal was R45 billion, and not R30bn.
Speaking on SABC's Newsmaker programme Lekota said any deal which was signed for over a period of years should be given an allowance that it could cost more.
"At the time when the deal was signed the rand was not worth what it is today. No one could predict that the rand would have moved," he said.
The late 1999 deal has been the subject of repeated corruption claims. Lekota maintained that the deal will not be cancelled and will still create 65000 jobs as promised.
"All the countries that have struck arms deals with us will buy from us and the arms will be produced in South Africa. "South Africans will be trained in the process of producing the goods." Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille told Lekota that the Cabinet had misled South Africans about the eventual cost of the deal, saying "they cannot justify their actions."
De Lille said she was prepared to stand before the investigating committee to testify against top government officials who were involved in the maladministration of the deal. De Lille has been at the forefront of attempts to uncover alleged corruption in the deal, and was the first to raise the matter publicly in Parliament after a group of disgruntled African National Congress MPs approached her about the matter.
She later forwarded the allegations to Judge Willem Heath's anti-corruption unit. Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee last Monday recommended an investigation into the deal which will involve at least five independent agencies. Sapa
With acknowledgement to Sapa and the Daily Dispatch.