Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2003-03-04 Reporter: Richard Young

Bid to Sink Corrupt Government Officials, Not the Arms Deal



Cape Times

Date 2003-03-04


Richard Young


The Editor
Cape Times


It would probably be vain of me to say I enjoyed your article, "Perfectly Poised to Sink 'Corrupt' Arms Deal" (Cape Times, February 27), - because the article was to a large extent about me.

However, acknowledgement is due to your correspondent, Sue Segar of the Natal Witness.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to see the sad saga that is the "arms deal" (for deal it is) still enjoys prominence in your newspaper, because, whatever the inept Joint Investigation Team and government may wish to think, this matter is far from over - the "fat lady" is still practising her octaves - so to speak.

However, there is one point I do wish to make for the record and that is, while I stand by my comments quoted in the article (except that it is the auditor-general and not the attorney-general who wrote the Special Review), I do not have and have never had the intention to "sink the arms deal".

I am even quoted in the article as saying: "We should have bought the Corvettes at the time" and that "We can't get the deal back because the project is too far advanced".

My amplification to the latter observation when interviewed was that "too many other innocent parties would be inconvenienced".

One of my intentions has been to "sink" the corrupt government officials who put together this enrichment scheme. I think I can claim the credit for at least one of these so far, but the government is doing a pretty good job of retiring other key officials as fast as it can.

However, I'm sure that this has more to do with getting a good couple of barge pole lengths between these persons and the government (which is the responsible contracting party), than curing "this cancer of corruption in the public service" - before the court actions start. The executive is on record as saying that the officials are not part of the government. Of course, the supply agreements do make provision for "remedies in the case of bribes", one of which is contract cancellation.

This is why there has been such a disinclination on the part of the government and its lapdogs, the so-called public watchdogs, not (sic) to make any direct findings of bribery or to seek any convictions for corruption.

However, being able to maintain such a position in the face of prima facie evidence of "requests for R500 000 per year, until dividends are paid" in respect of "protection and permanent support" may prove to be more difficult to defend.

The executive asked for prima facie evidence - now they have it.

The department of defence have themselves recently established a directorate for anti-fraud operations whose stated mission is "frauds are detected, investigated, prosecuted and losses recovered".

They have also established a hot-line for whistleblowers (although there doesn't appear to be a telephone number on their website). Is there at last a convergence?

Time will tell. In the meantime, we can remain vigilant.

With acknowledgements to Richard Young and Cape Times.