Publication: Sowetan Issued: Date: 2009-02-18 Reporter: Joel Avni

Explosive Arms Deal Dossier Put On Hold 






Reporter Joel Avni

Web Link

No knowledge:
Scopa’s Themba Godi

Parliament avoids debate until after election.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) used a technicality to avoid discussing explosive documents on the arms deal until after the election.

The documents include copies of reports on the arms deal that show Thabo Mbeki’s government lied to the public.

Richard Young, whose company lost an arms deal contract to a group involving Schabir Shaik, won access to a truckload of official arms deal documents after five court cases. He sent many documents to the committee .

Scopa chairman Themba Godi said yesterday that he had not seen the documents, though DA members were circulating extracts on the floor of the committee.

Young had earlier told the committee that the documents proved Mbeki’s government had changed investigative reports by then auditor-general Shauket Fakie and public protector Selby Baqwa.

Godi said yesterday that no discussion of Young’s material had been put on the agenda, so the matter could only be discussed when Parliament resumes after the election on April 22.

The reports were part of more than 800 pages of investigations sent to the presidency in 2001 that were critical of the government.

The presidency asked a cabinet committee to review the reports, which were then cut, sanitised and re-edited to invert their meaning and portray the government and cabinet ministers in a good light.

The ministerial committee included then minister of trade and industry Alec Irwin (sic - Erwin), then defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota, finance minister Trevor Manuel and then minister of public enterprises Jeff Radebe, all of whom were involved in the arms deal.

The documents were sent to Scopa after it called on the public last November to submit new evidence that might have come about since the 2001 investigation

But Scopa would not take oral evidence from those who submitted evidence *1, including Young and former defence secretary Pierre Steyn, due to time constraints.

With acknowledgements to Joel Avni and Sowetan.

*1       I only need an hour.