Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2010-07-12 Reporter: Carien du Plessis

Call to probe R2,9bn Airbus deposit



Cape Times



Reporter Carien du Plessis
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The DA has demanded closer scrutiny of South Africa's controversial order of eight A400M heavy-lift freight planes after it emerged that, seven months after the order was cancelled, Airbus Military has not yet returned the government's R2,9 billion deposit.

The Sunday Tribune yesterday reported that Airbus Military has threatened to pull out of the industrial partnership, in which it was to have created hundreds of jobs and invested an estimated R1bn in exchange for the deal.

Airbus has offered the country four planes for the decreased price of R4,3bn, of which two-thirds is already covered by the deposit which has already been paid.

DA spokesman on defence David Maynier said yesterday he would call on the chairman of the National Assembly portfolio committee on defence and military veterans, Nyami Booi, to ask the Defence Department to explain the current state of negotiations around the termination of the deal.

The department should also explain the plan to mitigate the risk to the defence industry after the aircraft deal was cancelled, as well as the progress made in the acquisition of the new transport aircraft for the South African Air Force.

The eight A400M planes were supposed to replace the ageing Hercules C130 transport aircraft currently in use.

"The DA believes that Parliament must now step in to ensure that there is a 'clean' acquisition process for any new aircraft purchased," Maynier said.

"The fact is that this country cannot afford to be dragged down by another strategic defence package-style corruption scandal."

Maynier was referring to the government's controversial arms deal, around which many allegations of corruption were made, but for which nobody ha yet been prosecuted.*1

Maynier said the original aircraft deal ran into trouble partly because the acquisition process was not properly followed.

"The bottom line is that it is absolutely imperative the acquisition process is bullet-proof and that all the relevant policy, legislation and regulations are complied with by the Defence Department."

Airbus has said it has been talking to Armscor about how to resolve the 2005 acquisition contract.

It would also meet Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu soon to understand the circumstances around the "sudden cancellation" of the contract and "the way forward".
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    * This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on July 12, 2010

With acknowledgements to Carien du Plessis and Cape Times.

The Arms Deal is nearly gone.

Only a few soldier on.

*1      This despite some of the most stunning smoking gun evidence ever held in the grubby paws of the National Prosecuting Authority.

Evidence so compelling that conviction of the most pivotal player in the entire Arms Deal could be achieved in a court week at a cost of a few tens of thousands of Rands and possibly even the conviction of  a further group of key players.

And after the Asset Forfeiture Unit got its share, there might even be a surplus. Some assets can be seen on Google Earth.