Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2004-05-21 Reporter: Angela Quintal

Swedish Arms Commission to Hear Range of Views in SA



Cape Times

Date 2004-05-21


Angela Quintal

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A commission of inquiry into Swedish arms exports has moved its focus to South Africa, but diplomats say examining allegations of corruption in Pretoria's multibillion-rand arms deal is not part of its brief.

Special investigator Anders Svard and four others were in Cape Town yesterday to meet representatives of the government, political parties and civil society.

Among those the delegation intends to meet is former education minister Kader Asmal, who headed the national conventional arms control committee.

MPs of the Democratic Alliance, Independent Democrats and Inkatha Freedom Party are also to be interviewed, as is Terry Crawford-Browne, who has campaigned against the arms deal.

The Swedish government launched the inquiry in July last year to review its laws and guidelines, given the changing conditions for its defence and security policy. The commission is independent of the Swedish government and parliament.

With greater defence industry co-operation between Stockholm and Pretoria, South Africa is one of several countries the commission is to visit.

The Swedish embassy said the inquiry was related to arms export regulation and had "nothing to do with allegations of corruption in connection with South African arms deals". Nor was it connected to calls in Sweden's parliament in November for an inquiry into allegations of corruption.

Swedish Christian groups and the opposition Green Party called for an inquiry into claims that the British-Swedish consortium BAe-Saab had bribed South African government and ANC officials to secure a contract for Gripen jets.

This followed allegations by former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein that the ANC had been given $35 million to win the contract. An SA spokesperson for BAe and SAAB said at the time the allegations had been investigated and proved unfounded.

With acknowledgements to Angela Quintal and the Cape Times.