AMID the fuss over the
exclusion of the Special Investigative Unit from the probe into the R30bn arms
procurement programme, and the upheavals this triggered in the parliamentary
standing committee on public accounts, some other essentials are in danger of
Four months after the joint investigation by the
auditor-general, public protector and National Directorate of Public
Prosecutions was initiated, precious little co-ordinated investigative work
seems to have been done.
We would hope the
meeting scheduled for today between their heads Shauket Fakie, Selby Baqwa and
Bulelani Ngcuka provides some impetus. The urgency of the inquiry was underlined
over the weekend with allegations that ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni received a
luxury motor vehicle from one of the subcontractors in the deal.
government's management of the affair has been ham-handed from the early
intervention by minister Essop Pahad, to the exclusion of the SIU and the
strong-arming of the ANC members of the public accounts committee who initiated
This has raised
questions over whether government is seeking to sweep it all under the carpet.
The political mismanagement of the affair has created a situation where
investigators will find it difficult, whatever they do, to satisfy public
In the circumstances,
it will not be long before the delays start looking like deliberate foot
dragging. For the same reason, the investigating troika will have to tread
carefully in deciding how best to pursue their task. Talk of convening a public
inquiry at this stage, even a full-scale judicial one, will raise further
suspicions of an attempt to preempt a thorough forensic investigation.
A judicial inquiry
might have a role at some stage perhaps with a view to recommending better ways
of handing arms procurements in future. But it cannot precede, or be a
substitute for, a proper criminal investigation by the directorate and a
focused, comprehensive probe by the auditor-general into matters affecting state
to Business Day.