Strangest Chapter in Weapon Saga
English Translation for : Vreemdste Hoofstuk in Wapensage
|Reporter||J.J. van Wyk|
“The alleged meeting of 19th August 1999" is the heading
of one of the strangest chapters in the report about the investigation into
alleged irregularities in South Africa’s weapon transaction of R66 billion.
Details about what happened at this meeting of the Project Control Board (PCB) - which is responsible for making decisions regarding the awarding of contracts for the supplying of four navy corvettes and sub-contracts for the warships’ systems - can clear up a lot of questions surrounding the brothers Shamin (Chippy) and Shabir Shaik and alleged favouritism by Chippy Shaik of companies in which his brother Shabir has a stake.
That is if the meeting really took place and the compilers of the report can be convinced of it.
In some instances the report seems to show that they are out to refute direct and undisputed evidence about the meeting by two members of the Joint Project Team (JPT), RAdm J Kamerman and Mr F Nortjé of Armscor.
Kamerman and Nortjé testified during the investigation about a “special” meeting which was apparently called together by Mr L Swan, the former executive head of Armscor and Chippy Shaik.
On the meeting where, according to Nortjé, Chippy Shaik took part in the discussions, risk assessment of contracts for the corvette war systems had been discussed and a submission was made.
It is in fact a meeting regarding risk assessment that lead to a “risk premium” of R40 million being added to the Information Management System for the corvettes; partially developed with taxpayers’ money by DrRichardYoung’s Cape Town company CCII Systems.
This risk premium made the Young-system, which was the first choice at some stage, too expensive for the navy and eventually caused Young’s tender to fail.
Other than suggestions that this decision was taken at the meeting of 19thAugust , no record can be found of when and by whom this decision was taken.
The contract was then awarded to Detexis, which forms a part of Thomson, France. Shabir Shaik, Chippy’s brother, has strong business ties with this group and has shares in Thomson, South Africa.
Thomson, France and Shaik are also shareholders in the company ADS, that forms part of the consortium that supply the corvettes and who also tendered for sub-contracts.
The writers of the report are obliged to speculate that “the meeting, if it was conducted, was one of the most conclusive meetings of the Project Control Board”. But directly in the next paragraph the criticising process starts. Often on the grounds of unfounded derivations and assumptions - for example:
Some of the people who were supposed to arrange this meeting or who, according to Kamerman’s and Nortjé’s testimony, would have been present at the meeting, testified that “no agenda of the meeting could be found”, they “can’t remember that they attended such a meeting”, and a third that there “was no entry in his diary of such a meeting”.
It is interesting that Mr Chippy Shaik testified that there was no such meeting and when he asked Kamerman about it, he said it was an informative meeting about “the contractual risk and the contractual model for the executive head of Armscor”.
“This creates serious doubt about the credibility of Adm Kamerman’s and Mr Nortjé’s versions,” is the conclusion in the report.
Nortjé didn’t want to give any comment about his alleged perjury. He is forbidden by Armscor, he told Rapport. Kamerman couldn’t be contacted for comment.
For Young and CCII, this is a positive step towards their objective of instituting a claim against the Department of Defence and other parties involved, to be submitted to the High Court early next year.
With acknowledgement to Christelle Terreblanche and Rapport.