Pressure mounts to blow arms deal open
Despite a long history of government attempts to keep the lid on South Africa’s strategic defence deals, pressure is mounting again on several different fronts to finally blow the scandal wide open.
This week the DA’s David Maynier made public a set of contract documents showing that BAE Systems paid about R100 million to influential ANC-linked “consultant” Fana Hlongwane. Describing the documentation as presenting prima facie evidence of bribery and/or corruption, Maynier called for a reopening of cancelled investigations into weapons procurement.
In another development, anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne last week finalised a responding affidavit for inclusion in a package of documents prepared for the Constitutional Court ahead of a hearing scheduled for September 5. Crawford-Browne, acting in concert with defence contractor Richard Young, disillusioned former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, author of the coruscating memoir After the Party, and author of Arms Deal in Your Pocket, Paul Holden, is seeking a full commission of inquiry. Also, prominently at issue in the Constitutional Court application is the administering of investment participation programmes by international weapons suppliers in offset of arms purchases by the South African government.
Meanwhile Scopa, under the chairmanship of APC MP Themba Godi, has been reinquiring into the arms deal since late last year.
As early as 2009, Godi’s committee conducted an oversight exercise into the handling by the Department of Trade and Industry of the National Industrial Participation programme. This week he expressed displeasure that Hawks chief Anwar Dramat had failed to inform the committee of the decision to cease all arms deal investigations more than six months earlier. Dramat claimed he had sent a letter in November, which had failed to reach its destination.
The Sunday Independent is reliably informed that Scopa is conducting informal debriefings of disillusioned former business associates of Hlongwane.
Scopa is also scrutinising the actions of Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane, as then Justice Department director-general, in allegedly thwarting moves by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to co-operate with the Hawks in investigating Hlongwane. - Ivor Powell
With acknowledgements to Ivor Powell andIndependent Online.