Publication: Rapport Issued: Date: 2001-01-21 Reporter: Editor: Barnard Beukman

Info that will Rock Government : Woods 

Publication  Rapport
Date 2001-01-21
Editor Barnard Beukman
Web Link

Johannesburg - He is in possession of information which strongly points to a need to have an independent inquiry into government's R43 billion arms procurement package, says chairman of the parliament's public accounts committee, Gavin Woods.

"The government does not know what information I have. We'll see who is right. The government potentially faces a crisis over this," says Woods.

Woods' words come in reaction to a strongly-worded letter from Deputy President Jacob Zuma, following Woods's request that the Heath Commission be included in the investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the arms deal.

In the letter Zuma challenged Woods to lay charges with the police and the speaker if he had information linking any person, including cabinet members, to the alleged corruption.

Zuma also wrote that Woods had implicated President Mbeki of being dishonest and corrupt in his former capacity as chairman of the cabinet committee that dealt with the contract. At the time that government decided on the contract, Mbeki was deputy president and chairman of the committee in question.

According to Zuma Woods had implicitly accused ministers Trevor Manuel, Alec Erwin, Stella Sigcau and former minister Joe Modise, who all served on the committee, as well as the governments of Britain, Sweden, Germany and Italy, and the companies involved in the contract.

He added that the allegations were of a serious nature and prompted Woods to lay charges. Zuma charged that Woods and his committee had come to the wrong conclusions without ever speaking to the ministers involved.

Zuma accused Woods of becoming involved in investigations in which he held no mandate and that the speaker of parliament, Frene Ginwala, had already confirmed that Woods made the wrong deductions regarding the committee's role and decisions.

Woods told Sunday newspaper Rapport that he would like to see Manuel, Erwin, Lekota and Jeff Radebe testify before the committee.

"But then it must be publicly, and before the media. They will then have the opportunity to step-by-step explain why they are attacking our viewpoints.

"Although we never liased with the ministers in person, we did so with officials in their departments, who were involved in preparing the documentation. The truth will be heard.

"The attack on me is an implicit attack on the legislature," Woods said.

"When the committee meets on Monday, we will know whether the executive was successful in isolating me from the committee. We will then see if the committee has the courage to retain its independence.

"ANC members have shown a lot of courage over the past two years, but the political pressure is massive. On Monday we will see where they stand. I wish them the necessary courage to stand by what is right."

With acknowledgement to Barnard Beukman and News24.