Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2006-09-29 Reporter:

That Tender Touch



Issue 84

Date 2006-09-29


That tender touch SA NAVY CHIEF, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, claimed in a recent interview about the country’s controversial arms deal that the Navy had merely “stated its requirements”, and from there the matter had been taken forward by other government agencies. “Who gets a tender from which country, the Navy is not involved,” he said – the implication being that the navy could not have had anything to do with any possible corruption in the arms deal.

But that, of course, is nonsense.

In the case of the corvettes, the bidding phase of the acquisition was managed by a high-level Project Control Board and lower-level Joint Project Team that included no less than 30 SA Navy men – ranging in rank from Lt Commander to Vice Admiral – including the former Chief of the Navy and Chief Director of Naval Warfare.

For the more modest corvettes originally requested by the SA Navy, the policitians insisted on buying from Germany bigger, much more expensive MEKO 200SA frigates – five of them – but which met only 50% of the Navy’s military requirements – at about 200% of the price at which it could have got Bazan 590B frigates from Spain that did meet the requirements. If one does the arithmetic that’s a bum deal by a factor of four.

Our new Navy chief claimed in the same interview: “We said we needed surface combatants, we needed anti-surface ability. We got all those things …”. That’s not true either.

In the case of the corvette combat suite (the ship’s computerised weapons control system), the SA Navy stipulated anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities – but allowed the latter to be scrapped in the course of final contract negotiations to hide the inflated cost of the inferior combat suite offered by the politically favoured French defence supplier Thomson-CSF (now Thales International) and its South African subsidiary ADS – hullo Shabir. All of this clearly with top-level cover from Chippy Shaik, Jacob Zuma, Defence Minister at the time Joe Modise and Thabo Mbeki, then Deputy President. n

With acknowledgement to Noseweek.