Armed and Dishonest
|Publication||United Democratic Movement (UDM) Website|
Corruption has taken root in government at the highest level during the last seven years. UDM members are strongly urged to lead civil society in the fight against corruption. The incidents of improper conduct and greed have accumulated to a degree where this administration is so tainted that the public has lost confidence in its ability and will to root out this scourge. A case in point is the closing of ranks of leading public officials and shielding their colleagues every time an incident of corruption involving one of their own is exposed. This happened at the revelations of mispropriety in the Arms Deal.
The Auditor-General conceded to Parliament and SCOPA that there were merits for the investigation of the Arms Deal. He was mandated by them to carry out this investigation and remained in principle and morally accountable to them. Instead he abused their trust, turned his back on them and kept the probe a private and confidential affair which he shared with the Cabinet. There is only one conclusion; the Auditor-General has betrayed the trust of Parliament and SCOPA.
President Thabo Mbeki stands out like a sore thumb as the major architect of the whole Arms Deal fiasco. The wild idea of an arms procurement of these dimensions, his high-jacking of the tendering process, the emasculation and marginalisation of SCOPA and Parliament and compromising the exalted office of the Auditor-General all conspire to project him as the unmistakable driving force behind this Arms Deal debacle. In hindsight, it is not surprising that he came out guns blazing in defence of the deal at an earlier press conference after the media revelations of corruption in the Arms Deal. His damage-control endeavour however has not succeeded in putting the matter to rest. The joint investigation by the Agencies has omitted to probe the Cabinet sub-committee over which the President presides. Instead they hastened to absolve them from wrongdoing without interrogating the facts, which are continually surfacing. As originally promised, they deliberately ignored to conduct a banking forensic audit of ANC companies who won Arms Deal sub-contracts namely, African Defence System (ADS), Futuristic Business Solutions, Applied Logistics Engineering, Nkobi Investments, Temoso Technology, M.K. Technologies, Dynamic Cables.
From the onset President Mbeki’s sub-committee positioned itself to influence the course of the investigation by establishing an “audit steering committee” on 29 November 1999, on which sat people suspected of wrongdoing in the Arms Deal, including Chippy Shaik. Notwithstanding the independence conferred on the office of the Auditor-General by the Constitution, the Auditor-General has allowed himself to be swayed by the executive and compromise the integrity of his office by allowing members of the Auditor-General’s office to serve in the Cabinet appointed Audit Steering Committee.
The Joint Investigations Agencies have been significantly reticent in their probe and resulting report on the aspects of the role of EADS , a beneficiary of the Arms Deal, which raised a number of questions about the integrity of some public officials.
EADS, a subsidiary of Mercedes Benz, doled out gifts of motor vehicles at ridiculously low prices to key public officials and other national figures. The revelations of these gifts clearly showed that no purchase contracts existed in respect of some of the vehicles given to these public figures. However, when the shady deals were exposed, hasty hire purchase arrangements were made to cover-up the shady deals.
For instance, it was revealed that President Mbeki had been given a luxury S600 bullet proof Mercedes Benz for test-driving for a period of six months. Tony Yengeni test-drove his for seven months. Mbeki’s car was only returned to Daimler Chrysler when the media exposed in March 2001 Tony Yengeni’s deal. All enquiries by the media about detail of the transaction hit a solid wall of reticence. Daimler Chrysler’s spokesperson Ms Chakela said that she could not talk. “I cannot comment due to Daimler Chrysler’s policy of providing no comment to the press until the investigation into the Arms Deal has been concluded”.
The original budget for the Arms Deal took into account the socio-economic demands of our society, hence the Defence Review’s conservative figure. How do we explain this surreptitious escalation of the Arms Deal budget to R66 billion when these socio-economic conditions have not changed?
This scenario has echoes of the Apartheid-era info-scandal of the Roodies and Mulders. Chippy Shaik may well go the way of a sacrificial lamb and carry the sins of his masters to the execution block as Herschell Roodie did. However, the Nationalist government of the day had stirrings of conscience, which prompted Mulder and John Vorster subsequently to resign from their posts. One wonders if our leaders will have the moral courage to emulate this historical example. Time will tell.
In light of Mbeki government’s behaviour, one wonders what prompted Mr Nelson Mandela to lament that little did he know that the corruption, which had characterised the apartheid regime, was now endemic among his ruling comrades.
The old adage that “The troughs have changed however the pigs have remained the same” is appropriate to describe this situation.
With acknowledgement to the UDM.