Rejected Contractor Spilt Beans
The personal beliefs of a disgruntled defence contractor partly sparked the allegations of wrongdoing in South Africa's strategic arms package, the public hearings into the deal revealed yesterday.
This emerged while the contractor, Mr Richard Young, was being questioned about his view that the product of a competitor who beat him to a tender was inferior.
"So, it is your beliefs that have sparked all these allegations?" asked Mr. Michael Kuper, for the department of defence.
Mr. Young responded: "To a certain extent, yes."
Mr. Kuper earlier remarked: "That highly self-interested perspective of yours explains much of the problem."
He also suggested that Mr. Young had deliberately sought to discredit the country's arms procurement process through the media after he lost the contract.
Mr. Young is the managing director of Communications Computer Intelligence Integration Systems, a Cape Town-based defence information technology company.
He contends there were irregularities in awarding a R40 million tender for information management systems used in the four corvette ships South Africa bought under the arms package.
CCII was named the preferred supplier of these systems, Mr Young claimed. The tender was, however, awarded to French company Detexis.
Detexis is the sister company of African Defence Systems, of which arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir, is a shareholder and director.
Mr Kuper asked Mr Young why he had quoted selectively from a classified technical evaluation report on the Detexis product.
In his testimony on Monday, Mr Yong reproduced extracts from the report, listing the negative aspects of the Detexis system.
Mr Kuper pointed out yesterday that this list was preceded by a paragraph stating that the Detexis product met the necessary requirements. Asked why this conclusion was omitted from his testimony, Mr Young said: "I think that statements is completely wrong".
Mr Kuper described the paragraph concerned as the most important aspect of the report, asking: "What about candour, honesty and bona fides in dealing with a document in a way that reflects its contents?"
When Mr Young maintained that the Detexis system was not up tp standard, Mr Kuper pointed that it was being used in a sophisticated destroyer of Britain's Royal Navy.
"And this is one of the most advanced combat ships in the world", Mr Kuper said.
Mr Young replied that political reasons were behind the decision by the British to opt for the Detexis system. Classified
Mr Young was also queried about an undertaking in his testimony to supply classified documents he referred to if asked to do so.
"Do you have all the documents?" Mr Kuper asked.
Mr Young replied: "I don't have all of them any longer. Some were in digital form and have been deleted".
Questioning Mr Young about his criticism in the media on the procurement process, Mr Kuper said: "You deliberately sought media exposure".
Mr Young responded: "That is not entirely true. I was approached by hundreds of people in the press, of whom I turned away about 80%".
However, he confirmed he had made use of the opportunity to air his grievances, adding: "Taking your story ti the press is the last resort in any democracy".
Asked whether he still intended resorting to legal action, Mr Young refused to answer.
With acknowledgements to Sapa and The Mercury.