Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2000-11-05 Reporter: Editor: Sapa

Arms Deal Questions Remain

Publication  News24
Date 2000-11-05
Editor Sapa
Web Link

Johannesburg - Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota on Sunday could not directly answer why the public was not informed that South Africa's controversial arms deal would cost R45 billion and not R30 billion, as was initially publicised. 

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."

The deal, signed in late 1999, has been the subject of repeated corruption allegations. Lekota maintained that the deal will not be cancelled and will still create 65 000 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," he said. 

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 the 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 Justice Willem Heath's anti-corruption unit. Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee last week recommended that an investigation into the deal, which will involve at least five independent agencies. - Sapa

With acknowledgement to Sapa and News24.