New Shocks on Arms Deal
The Natal Witness
Documents released by A-G differ from final report given to Parliament
Arms deal documents released to the media yesterday reveal that jets were bought by the South African Air Force even though they had no pilots to fly them.
These revelations came as Cape Town based company C2I2 released documents showing that the arms deal investigation report given to Parliament was edited extensively in what is seen as a cover-up by senior politicians.
The documents are draft reports into the arms deal that were given to the president and cabinet before being released to Parliament. Auditor-General Shauket Fakie has unsuccessfully opposed C2I2 managing director Richard Young in his court battle to obtain the documents.
However, Fakie has been granted leave to appeal the decision of the Pretoria High Court forcing him to hand documents over to C2I2.
Last year Fakie handed over a portion of the documents when the high court found that he was in contempt of a court order to produce the documents.
Releasing the documents he was given last year, Young said: "These documents - only a small portion of what the auditor-general was ordered to give me - show something terrible: that the auditor-general, a watchdog body protected by the constitution, conspired with politicians to pervert the course of justice. They show that the auditor-general was fully aware of many serious irregularities and allowed politicians to cover them up by editing them out of the arms deal report to Parliament."
The differences between the draft reports Young was given late last year and the public version are stark and fundamental.
The report given to Parliament gave the arms deal a clean bill of health.
The draft reports show that, among other things, investigators found that there were "fundamental flaws in the selection of BAE/Saab" to provide the jet fighters and trainers.
The report also finds that Chippy Shaik, brother of corruption accused Schabir, misrepresented Young's product by telling cabinet the Navy considered his products a risky purchase as they could not be relied upon.
The report finds that this claim is not sustained by "any of the witnesses or any of the documents made available to us".
The report also mentions how Shaik and Llew Swann (sic - Swan), a senior Armscor manager, illegally intimidated and threatened to dismiss employees who disagreed with the way they ran the procurement process.
The drafts include documents from senior SA Air Force generals saying that the SAAF has "50 frontline fighter planes which will be in service until at least 2012" but only "nine pilots and seven staff officers qualified to fly them".
Staff officers are senior pilots, normally well past flying age, who would not take part in combat operations in normal circumstances.
The letters ask that the Hawk and Gripen jets not form part of the Strategic Defence Package. The letters also say that the SAAF would not be able to afford the upkeep and maintenance needed to keep the aircraft operational. In addition, technical documents show that the SAAF did not want the Gripen because of the very complex nature of its controls.
Other findings in the report are that the acquisition of the corvette combat suite, the gearboxes for the Navy corvettes, and the helicopters *1 for the SAAF, were also conducted in an irregular manner.
The process did not allow for "fair and competitive acquisition", as demanded by both the constitution and Department of Defence guidelines.
Asked for comment, Fakie refused to meet or have a telephone conversation. He also refused to answer questions, but sent a prepared statement through his spokesman, Peet Grundling.
"The auditor-general, Mr Shauket Fakie, has taken note that draft documents relating to the arms deal handed over to Richard Young have been distributed to the media. Several requests to provide detailed explanations on the draft documents have subsequently emanated from the media.
"As a general practice, the auditor-general does not comment on the contents of draft documents purely because of the magnitude of the information contained in drafts and the fact that the contents of such documents could change, because they are working/preliminary documents * 2.
"Due process has been followed in the compilation of the final report, which was tabled in Parliament. The auditor-general stands by the contents thereof.
"Documents handed to Richard Young in the first half of 2003 was [sic] also distributed to the media, resulting in many enquiries and allegations."
Young said he has no regrets about releasing the documents to the press: "I am perfectly entitled to do so and believe the public have a right to know the truth. I do not see why the public should be kept in the dark when it comes to what happens with public funds."
With acknowledgement to The Natal Witness.
*1 Actually helicopter engines.
*2 Previously, the only changes were cosmetic - now the changes arise from due process. Which is it?
*3 In any case, it is only due process to allow an auditee to respond in a regulatory audit (i.e. the Special Review). In such a case, the changing of the preliminary findings are is done in a traceable, transparent and controlled process, i.e. the "Management Letter".
It is not due process to allow an auditee to respond in a forensic audit or forensic investigation (The Joint Investigation) which is spawned by a regulatory audit.
Even if it was due process, any changing of the preliminary findings would have to be done in a traceable, transparent and controlled process.
Handwritten changes to final drafts by unnamed and undisclosed reviewers cannot be considered to be a traceable, transparent and controlled process, albeit the use of formal editing notation as used by newspaper and book editors in the days of the manual typewriter before the PC-based wordprocessor and seldom understood or even known by legally-trained and accounting-trained forensic investigators (or even the modern secretary).