Motlanthe to be Forced to Investigate Arms Deal
A summons will be served on President Kgalema Motlanthe next week in a bid to compel him to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal, after repeated requests for a probe were rejected.
The court papers, which would be filed on behalf of retired banker and arms activist Terry Crawford-Browne, are expected to include, as supporting evidence, Jacob Zuma’s threat to expose others involved in the arms deal if convicted. Allegations by the National Union of Metalworkers in 1998 that R35m was being laundered by European defence group BAE Systems via Swedish trade unions as bribes for African National Congress (ANC) politicians will also form part of the evidence.
According to an investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, more than £100m was secretly paid by the arms company BAE in bribes in order to secure the right to supply warplanes.
That investigation prompted raids on various businesses in SA in November.
On Friday , the weekly newspaper Mail & Guardian reported that members of the ANC’s national executive committee and legal representatives, allegedly from Zuma’s team, promised to spill the beans about corruption in the arms deal to the National Prosecuting Authority to prove that Zuma was a small fry in the arms deal saga.
Crawford-Browne’s legal representative Charles Abrahams said on Friday summons would be issued to Motlanthe this week after he failed to meet a deadline to appoint a commission.
A 10-page letter of demand by Crawford-Browne was served on Motlanthe two weeks ago, arguing that the president had failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations to appoint a commission of enquiry “where one is so blatantly needed”. It accused him of putting the interest of the ANC above those of the country.
“We have not heard from the president’s office and so we will be proceeding with the issuing of the summons,” said Abrahams.
Motlanthe’s lack of response is not surprising. Last month he rejected a request from Nobel Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk for a probe, saying a commission would interfere with continuing investigations by the police.
Crawford-Browne said “no discernible progress” had been made into complaints by himself or businessman Richard Young last year about corruption in the arms deal, which made him question whether any of the present investigations would get to the bottom of the deal and expose all those involved.
Young’s company CCII has been paid R15m in a settlement involving the defence minister, Armscor and others for damages claims relating to corruption in the arms deal.
Young, whose defence industry electronics engineering company was initially favoured to provide integrated combat suites for the navy’s corvettes, then was controversially dropped, has emerged as one of the main whistle-blowers in the arms deal saga.
Former British secretary for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt admitted in the UK Parliament in June 2003 that BAE had paid “commissions” to secure its SA contracts, but argued that the payments were “within acceptable limits”.
With acknowledgements to Chantelle Benjamin and Business Day.