Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2008-10-22 Reporter: Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

'It Should Not Drag On'



Cape Argus




Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Parliament's watchdog committee on government spending is urging anyone with hard evidence of irregularities relating to the arms deal to appear before it.

The committee decided on Tuesday it wanted to finalise the controversy regarding the defence procurement package before parliament ended its term.

MPs agreed that it would be in the best interests of the country and all involved if the matter was laid to rest as speedily as possible.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi (African People's Convention) said in the light of media reports indicating that certain individuals claimed to have obtained new information,
they should come forward and present their evidence to the committee.

During the meeting, ANC MP Vincent Smith launched a blistering attack on DA MP Eddie Trent for "insulting" the ruling party by accusing it of dragging its feet over the arms deal. Trent last month accused the ANC of not doing enough to investigate.

Smith said the ANC had no problem with calling anyone, including former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein - the author of After the Party - and businessman Richard Young to present fresh evidence.

He said Trent was creating an impression that the ANC was trying to suppress new information on the saga.

It was important for parliament to test the validity of any information before it could be accepted as sufficient evidence.

Smith was supported by IFP MP Hennie Bekker, who agreed that Parliament should not rely on newspaper articles and "rumour-mongering", but
rather hard evidence.

"If there is any substantial information this matter must be pursued - we must
cut through to the bone," Bekker said.

Trent said Parliament owed it to South Africans that no stone was left unturned in getting to the bottom of the saga.

Speaking to the Cape Times after the meeting adjourned,
Godi said parliament must move with haste to close the matter.

Godi said he would be writing to various departments seeking information on progress of their own investigations.

The committee mandated Godi to write to the National Prosecuting Authority, the departments of defence, public service and administration, trade and industry as well as the National Treasury and state arms company, Armscor.

"We are asking for information they supposedly have.

"It should not drag on," Godi said.

In a meeting earlier this month with opposition leader, the DA's Helen Zille, President Kgalema Motlanthe did not close the door on the possibility of a judicial inquiry being appointed into the arms deal.

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With acknowledgements to Siyabonga Mkhwanazi and Cape Argus.

Themba Godi and Vincent Smith have since proven themselves to be common charlatans and filibusters.

In this regard, they went back upon their words and suppressed exactly what it was that was meant to be exposed.

Contrary to their position stated it has indeed dragged on for yet another six months and will drag on for at least another six months to year until a new SCOPA committee is in place. Then it will drag on for years until that committee is able to address it, let alone deal with it.