State Threatens Gag Order
|Publication||Mail & Guardian|
suggest that Chippy Shaik did not withdraw from key arms decisions involving his
agencies and the state attorney this week sought to stop the Mail & Guardian
from publishing information about documents that expose serious irregularities
in the R50-billion arms deal.
after the M&G asked Minister of Trade and Industry Alec Erwin to comment on
the documents, Pretoria state attorney Caroline Dreyer contacted the newspaper
to say a formal probe was under way into how it had obtained "classified
documents". Two similar calls from people purporting to be from Military
Intelligence and the National Intelligence Agency followed.
state attorney said she was acting in terms of the (apartheid-era) Defence Act,
which prevents the media from publishing almost anything related to the military
or to the defence of South Africa.
Wednesday she told M&G editor Howard Barrell that she planned to obtain a
high court interdict suppressing publication. When Barrell said she should put
her legal authority for this in writing, she responded: "I will bring my
order then. Thank you." Dreyer then slammed down the telephone.
documents in question include minutes of a meeting of the arms package Project
Control Board at which the acquisition of the four Corvettes was discussed.
broach one of the most explosive issues in the arms deal saga whether the
defence secretariat's chief of acquisitions, Chippy Shaik, was involved in
decisions and discussions over subcontracts that benefited companies associated
with his brother, Schabir.
documents give no indication that they are in any way secret or classified. They
suggest that Chippy Shaik did not step back from discussions about combat suites
for the ships that resulted in a contract for French company Detexis. Detexis is
a sister company of African Defence Systems, a South African company of which
Schabir Shaik is a shareholder and director.
Shaik told Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that he
recused himself from all deliberations involving a possible conflict of
Project Control Board meeting took place on August 24 1999. The minutes show
Chippy Shaik, as arms acquisition chief, actively participating in and even
chairing discussions regarding Detexis.
minutes contradict a Department of Defence document submitted to the public
accounts committee claiming the meeting was chaired by the chief of the navy after Chippy Shaik recused himself.
Department of Defence and Shaik effectively told Parliament that Shaik had
recused himself and handed over chairmanship of the Project Control Board
session, which selected the Detexis product, to the chief of the navy.
testimony to Scopa the Department of Defence said: "The project team
presented a recommendation to the Project Control Board on August 24 1999 for
the Detexis [Information Management System] as proposed by the main contractor
and supported by the project team. The Project Control Board, chaired by the
chief of the navy in terms of the chief of acquisition's recusal during Corvette
combat suite decisions, ratified this recommendation, which was supported by the
CEO of Armscor."
the minutes of that session seemingly contradict the defence department's
assurance. The minutes entitled Minutes of the Project Control Board Meeting
Held In the Zipper Conference Room at Armscor on 24 August 99 at 11h00 to Review
Project Sitron and Wills ñ present no evidence of Shaik recusing himself at
that point or handing over to the chief of the navy. They also show that Shaik
actively participated in the debate over the use of his brother's company.
minutes show Chippy Shaik discussing the use of Cape Town firm C²I²'s combat
suite in the Corvettes and the financial risk of using their products. In the
end, C²I² lost out to Detexis.
the M&G has also obtained new documents undermining the government's
repeated claim that it had nothing to do with the selection of sub-contractors.
documents show Armscor forced the German Frigate Consortium to use a
sub-contractor the Germans did
to use, making them buy gearboxes they had earlier rejected on technical
from the Germans to Mr J van Dyk of Armscor, dated August 28 1999, refers to an
Armscor request that the Germans change from gearbox makers Maag to rival
company Renk. Despite knowing that Renk was offering greater industrial offsets,
the Germans still decided to chose the Maag gearbox ñ for "technical
Germans' letter to Armscor reads: "After your request we convinced Maag to
improve their DIP and NIP [their industrial participation offsets inside South
Africa and then explains what improvements in their offset offer Maag had made.
But even with the improvements to Maag's industrial offset offer, the Germans
still eventually dropped Maag in favour of Renk.
comment on the documents ñ and how they showed government interference in
sub-contracts ñ Erwin's spokesman Edwin Smith said he could not comment as the
documents were classified.
why they were not marked as such, Smith said he presumed "someone" had
removed the "Top Secret" markings on the documents.
in the government has questioned the authenticity of the documents in the
With acknowledgment to Paul Kirk and the Mail & Guardian.