Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2004-03-05 Reporter: Sheena Adams

Manuel 'Relieved' as Arms Ordeal Ends



Cape Times

Date 2004-03-05


Sheena Adams

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An exhausted Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has expressed "profound relief" after the Cape Town High Court rejected an application to have the government's multi-billion rand arms deal scrapped.

The application, in which the Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (Ecaar), an NGO, sought to have the foreign loan agreements financing the deal cancelled, claimed Manuel had "failed to apply his mind" before signing them.

The case was dismissed with costs.

But an "extremely disappointed" Terry Crawford-Browne, head of the South African arm of Ecaar, vowed to appeal.

Speaking at parliament, Manuel said the application had "attacked" the government on the basis of rationality.

"The court found that our decisions were indeed rational. As the judge said, it was not for the court to agree or disagree with the cabinet decision, but to decide whether our procedures were correct, rational and in accordance with government's power of responsibility.

"The decision has brought to an end a horribly long battle. I just wanted Terry Crawford-Browne to stop being as defamatory as he has been. He's been vexatious and vulgar and I'm very relieved that the matter is behind us."

Manuel added that, although the court matter was settled, he was still in the dark as to what exactly Ecaar was.

He said there would have been profound implications for the government and its ability to enter lawfully into contracts if the court application had been successful.

With acknowledgements to Sheena Adams and the Cape Times.