Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2001-01-12 Reporter: Editor: Mungo Soggot

Arms Deal : The Shaik Link Deepens

Publication  Mail & Guardian
Date 2001-01-12
Editor Mungo Soggot
Web Link

THE brother of a senior official guiding South Africa’s controversial R43bn arms package has been a director of a local offshoot of one of the winning foreign companies from as early as 1996 - winning contracts worth at least R400m in the process.

Shabir Shaik, the brother of Shamin ‘Chippy Shaik, the defence secretariat’s chief of acquisition, is a director of Thomson CSF, a French military company which is one of the groups that was selected last year to supply equipment for the South African navy’s corvettes. 

In May last year, the Mail & Guardian published details of Shabir Shaik’s directorship of another company involved in the arms deal, African Defence Systems (ADS), which was appointed by the defence secretariat to coordinate the acquisition of the corvettes and to integrate the ships’ equipment.

Possible nepotism involving Chippy Shaik and members of his family is one of several aspects of the arms deal that are expected to be probed by various state institutions, including the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Public Protector. The Heath special investigative unit, which the standing committee on public accounts also wants to examine the deal, is awaiting a proclamation from the Ministry of Justice. There is speculation that the government could deny the proclamation and instead form a new investigative unit or a commission of inquiry to probe the arms deal.

Gavin Woods, chair of the public accounts committee, said this week he was unaware of Shaik’s directorship of Thomson stretching back to 1996, adding that ‘questions raised by these sorts of facts stress the need for a rigorous investigation [of the deal]. 

The fact that Shabir Shaik is a director of Thomson - and has been for so long - will likely intensify the investigators’ focus on the Shaiks. Chippy Shaik has defended allegations of a conflict of interest where ADS is concerned on the grounds that he recused himself from all decisions on South African involvement in the weapons deals. He told the M&G last May that the committees concerned had been chaired by the chief of staff of the air force and navy.

Chippy Shaik says he should be praised for having voluntarily stepped down: ‘I should be applauded and not hung.” Shaik said Thomson had lost out on many other bids for the defence package, and it was “not a crime to have family in defence.” He said there had merely been a “perceived bias”.

With acknowledgement to Mungo Soggot and the Mail & Guardian.