Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-04 Reporter: Sapa

Mbeki's Role in Arms Deal Must be Probed



Business Day

Date 2003-09-04



Web Link


Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille has called for a probe into "curious" events in the bidding for SA's arms deal that might have involved President Thabo Mbeki.

This was related to an about-turn in the shortlisting of bidders for four navy corvettes and three submarines, she told the National Press Club in Pretoria.

Germany's bid to supply these vessels reappeared inexplicably on the short list after Mbeki visited that country.

"I am still waiting on an explanation about this curious chain of events," said De Lille.

She raised the first claims of corruption in the multibillion-rand arms programme, and told Parliament in 1999 she had information about African National Congress politicians getting kickbacks from foreign arms consortiums.

De Lille said yesterday that at least half of the contents of the original dossier had been confirmed.

"Now that we have found prima facie evidence (in the dossier), it is about time to revisit the document."

She said "There is one person named in the original document who is still not being investigated President Thabo Mbeki."

The dossier showed the German bid of the Thyssen company for the corvettes and Ferrestaal's submarines bid were not originally short-listed in 1995. At the time suppliers from Spain and Britain were listed to furnish the corvettes and submarines respectively.

De Lille said the re-entrance of the German bid on the short list after Mbeki visited Germany when he was still deputy president.

"Suddenly the Spaniards and the British bids were ousted and the German one included.

"Why the change to the German bid, and so soon after the visit of the deputy president?"

"Moving from a non-preferred bidder to the winner of the bid seems very suspicious," she said

De Lille said the dossier reported a former German ambassador as saying on a private visit to SA in 1966 that Germany was determined to secure the tender at all costs.

This "obviously included bribery. In fact, three percent commission on top of the package had been set aside by Germany."

De Lille said it had since been determined that the Spanish and British bidders complied with all requirements for building the vessels.

 * It be real?

With acknowledgements to Sapa and Business Day.