Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-01-07 Reporter: Terry CrawfordBrowne Editor:

 Cancel Arms Deal


Publication  Business Day
Date 2003-01-07


Terry Crawford-Browne

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Have Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his cabinet colleagues learned nothing during the arms deal scandal?

Deputy President Jacob Zuma (seemingly just a "small fish" in the saga) is now under investigation.

It is not inconceivable that President Thabo Mbeki himself, who as chairman of the arms procurement committee intervened actively on behalf of the German warship bids, will yet face impeachment.

Like Watergate, the cover-up has become even worse than the original crime. Your report (Lekota fights against yielding arms data, January 3) confirms that even constitutional safeguards may be jettisoned rather than admit that the arms deal represents the African National Congress government's betrayal of the struggle against apartheid.

The arms deal was apparently merely one facet of attempts by former defence minister Joe Modise to establish the leadership of Umkhonto we Sizwe as the new financial elite of post-apartheid SA.

Pervasive corruption in oil deals, the Cell C saga, Coega, toll roads, smart card technology, drug, diamond and weapons trafficking and related money laundering is fast turning the country into a mafia society beyond the rule of law.

Lekota's argument that the release of documents to CI could pose a danger to SA's security is utter rubbish. Similarly nonsensical were Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's responses to the Economists Allied For Arms Reduction SA application to cancel the arms deal as strategically, economically and financially irrational, and thus unconstitutional.

The arms deal was premised, let us remember, on the economic absurdity that offsets of R110bn would generate 64165 jobs, and it was costed at an exchange rate of R6,25 to the dollar.

Instead of bluster and yet more lies, government's credibility would be better served if it came clean, and cancelled the arms deal.

With acknowledgements to Terry Crawford-Browne and Business Day.