Publication: Dispatch Online
Reporter: Editorial Opinion
hardened shell of South Africa's ±R40 billion arms deal will not, it seems, be
blown open by any decisive action by the government, but will be dismantled screw by twisted screw in our civil and criminal
With every month evidence accrues that there was a feast of
personal enrichment and an elaborate cover-up involving
auditor-general Shauket Fakie, the public
protector, the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, and the Presidency itself. Key documents are the draft report
by the Joint Investigating Team (JIT) and the very hygienic final
Critics say the arms deal has virtually disabled the SA National
Defence Force by sponging up funds it needs to operate and has yielded few of
the 65 000 jobs the country was promised.
The thundering silence of the
government, the ANC and the SABC on recent developments has muted public debate
- not that there is much to debate. Either the claims being made are verifiable
or they are not.
Democratic Alliance MP Eddie Trent has added two sets of
minutes of a ministerial briefing on August 31, 1998. The meeting purportedly
recommended the air force buy the British BAE/Hawk jet trainer in preference to
the Italian Aermacchi MB339. The original minutes record no such
Present at the meeting was the then Defence Secretary, General
Pierre Steyn. He later questioned the legal basis for buying the arms, and said
the process was "riddled" with irregularities and he
was "appalled" by an investigation designed to cover
"political manipulation" - all of which were excised
from the JIT report.
Credit for exposing the differences between the
draft and the thoroughly sanitised final JIT report belongs to C²I² managing
director Richard Young. He fought a three-year battle in the courts to get Fakie, under threat of imprisonment, to hand over the draft
and the supporting documents.
Young says a damning
draft report went to the Presidency on October 4, 2001 *1. Fakie met the
president about October 16 and the report was sanitised between October 18 and
26 to exonerate the government and all its minions. Either this happened or it
did not. The evidence is in the public domain.
The government's chance to
clean the Augean stables had come and gone. Since then questionable claims to
Parliament and the country have only augmented the muck. Many have paid with their careers. Many more
Young is suing the government for R150m for the loss of the
electronics contract to Thales, a company associated with Shabir Schaik. Meanwhile Schaik is on trial for fraud and corruption. *2
Young has also launched four actions against government officials and
rivals for allegedly defamatory comments. The Human Rights Commission hopes the
Promotion of Access to Information Act will force Armscor to release documents
relating to part of the deal.
The major opposition parties have called
for a judicial commission of inquiry into the whole arms deal. But judicial
commissions are always hobbled by their terms of reference and provide the
convenient shields of "sub judice" and "afgehandel" (disposed of) to fend off
all other inquiries.
Better the claims be dealt with,
one by one, in open court.
With acknowledgement to Dispatch Online.
*1 It did indeed. This is confirmed by Shauket Fakie
himself in a sworn affidavit attached to his own court papers trying the defend
Note : Fakie's appeal against his contempt of court
conviction comes up fairly soon in the Supreme Court of Appeals in
*2 Since then, Shaik has been found
guilty on all three counts including the general corruption and arms deal
bribery counts. Now his benefactor, Thales South Africa, and their mutual
beneficiaries have been formally indicted with almost identical corruption
But it seems that there were other pigs the size of elephants
feeding at the troughs of arms deal bumiputera. The one elephant thinks that
another elephant can be used in its defence. Maybe, maybe not.
is a previously missed, but brilliant opinion piece dredged from the heart of
the Eastern Cape. How they complied it, I do not know.