Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2007-09-27 Reporter: Terry CrawfordBrowne

Arms and Men



Business Day

Date 2007-09-27


Terry Crawford-Browne


Opinion & Analysis

President Thabo Mbeki and the men around him have repeatedly blocked an independent investigation into the arms deal scandal and, in particular, his role as chair of the c abinetís arms deal subcommittee.

This is illustrated by Mbekiís dismissal of Judge Willem Heath, his destruction of constitutional checks and balances and the insertion of a critical whitewashing paragraph in the joint investigating team report.

Tokyo Sexwale last week declared unambiguously that bribes were what drove the arms deal.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost with the suspension of Vusi Pikoli.

Mbekiís one-time buddy, former British prime minister Tony Blair, also thought he could squelch investigations into bribes paid by BAE to secure British arms exports.

Nine years ago, it was supposedly not illegal in Britain to bribe foreigners, including the former African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni.

Blair last December claimed that the investigation of BAE bribes to Saudi princes would jeopardise British national security.

The BAE bribes to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan ó another of Mbekiís buddies ó have been revealed to amount to £1bn (R14,5 bn), and laundered with British government assistance through Riggs Bank in Washington . N ow the US c ongress and justice department, for their own nefarious reasons, are investigating.

The BAE bribes to secure its contracts with SA are estimated at £112m (R1,6bn). Only 11 of 24 BAE/Hawk and none of the 28 BAE/Saab Gripen warplanes have been delivered.

They certainly have not been paid for under the Barclays Bank loan agreements which run until 2019 and are a textbook example of third world debt entrapment by European banks and governments.

Unless Mbeki wants to see his whole presidency implode as the corruption that pervades his government is revealed, those contracts should be cancelled forthwith under the bribery clauses of the supply agreements.

Terry Crawford-Browne

With acknowledgements to Terry Crawford-Browne and Business Day.