Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2004-11-17 Reporter: Councillor G. E. Devenish Reporter:

Arms Deal



The Natal Witness

Date 2004-11-17


Councillor G. E. Devenish

Web Link



I refer to your editorial titled "Arms deal" (The Witness, November 10). The Auditor-General plays a seminal role in relation to Parliament's control over finance and expenditure by the executive branch of government. This office is historically and intrinsically one of the most responsible and demanding in the entire machinery of state administration.

The Auditor-General is first and foremost the guardian of the public purse. Public money must be spent in accordance with parliamentary or other appropriation by institutions and persons who are obliged to account accurately and comprehensively for the expenditure of public funds.

Bearing the above in mind, it is unfortunate that the present incumbent of the office of the Auditor-General, Shauket Fakie, has become embroiled in a certain measure of controversy in relation to the arms deal. As you have reported, Richard Young, the managing director of C212 Systems, was an unsuccessful bidder in relation to information management systems for the navy's new Corvettes. This has resulted in a lawsuit by Young against the government involving an amount of R150 million. Young has attempted to use the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain certain documents from the Auditor-General to prove alleged corruption.

After the Pretoria High Court ordered Fakie to produce these documents, he failed to do so and a sentence was consequently imposed on him for 30 days' imprisonment, suspended on condition that he hand over the documents. He has now appealed. The issue is controversial because the Auditor-General, like the public protector, should be politically impartial and independent. It appears, in the absence of a plausible explanation, as if the Auditor-General is involved in some kind of cover-up in going to such lengths to prevent Young from obtaining documents relating to the arms deal.

The public, and indeed Parliament, are entitled to some kind of rational explanation, failing which the esteem of this very important office of Auditor-General will be brought into serious disrepute to the manifest detriment of transparent government.

With acknowledgements to G.E. Devenish and The Natal Witness.