Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-03-05 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

Government Won't Cancel Arms Third Tranche

 

Publication 

Business Day

Date 2004-03-05

Reporter

Donwald Pressly

Web Link

www.bday.co.za

 

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has ruled out the possibility of government cancelling the third tranche of the arms procurement package. The cabinet has until the end of the month to change its mind.

Speaking in Cape Town following the ruling of the Cape High Court - which dismissed an application by the Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (ECAAR-SA) aimed at scrapping the multi-billion rand arms deal - he said:

"The decisions are taken. I am part of a collective of cabinet decisions on the matter. And those decisions have been duly taken and announced. It has nothing to do with the case at hand (the ECAAR-SA case)."

His comments followed a call by shadow finance minister, Democratic Alliance MP Raenette Taljaard who said she accepted the ruling of the court.

She, however, said that as South Africa approached the national election on April 14, "government has the option this month of indicating whether it will cancel the third tranche of the Hawk-Gripen fighter jet package".

The third tranche includes Hawk trainers and Gripen fighter aircraft.

"This would save the South African taxpayer R10 billion," she said, calling on the government to tell "the people of South Africa whether it will continue with this march of folly of an arms expenditure drive or whether sanity will prevail."

Taljaard said the people of South Africa deserved better than "a self- enriching procurement". She suggested, instead, that the priorities of State spending should be jobs, houses, clinics that provided anti-retrovirals and a police force that kept criminals "at bay".

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and the Business Day.