DA to Present New Arms Deal Evidence to SCOPA
The latest media revelations (in the Mail and Guardian on Friday and in the Independent group newspapers on Saturday) regarding corruption in the defence industry reinforces the notion that the questions surrounding the secretive and shady nature of the weapons trade at this time will simply not go away. The DA believes that the revelations so far are merely the tip of the iceberg and that they require far more intense scrutiny.
The DA is now in possession of the full transcript of an interview between the Directorate of Special Operations and the former MD of ARMSCOR, Hienrich Esterhuyse. We believe the claims made by Esterhuyse in his interview strengthen our call for a new investigation into irregularities in the arms deal. The DA will present this new evidence to parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
In his interview Esterhuyse echoes many of the stinging criticisms made by former Secretary of Defence, Pierre Steyn about the arms deal including that the procurement process was riddled with large-scale irregularities, that the decision was taken in advance to select BAe/SAAB as a preferred bid for the LIFT and ALFA projects and that the requirements of the Defence Review were largely ignored.
In his interview Esterhuyse reinforces Steyn’s view that the late Defence Minister Joe Modise was determined to select BAe/SAAB above all other bidders and that he argued as a result that its bid “should be considered in a different light”.
Esterhuyse also provides more clarity about the disputed set of minutes of a special cabinet meeting where the decision was supposedly taken to select BAe/SAAB as a preferred bidder. Esterhuyse states the meeting in question was a rushed process with no formal procedure and in particular, no proper minute taking. He also confirms that the highly irregular situation developed where Chippy Shaikh not only presented information about the bidders concerned but also took the minutes of the meeting *1.
Esterhuyse claims, like Steyn, that Shaikh incorrectly recorded in the minutes that the decision was taken to choose BAe/SAAB as the preferred bidder. When confronted by Esterhuyse, Shaik claimed that decision was taken after Esterhuyse had left the meeting. If this was indeed the case then this would have been against all rules of procurement procedure.
Esterhuyse subsequently took the minutes to then CEO of Armscor who also agreed that no decision was taken to choose BAe/SAAB as the preferred bidder.
Even more worryingly, Esterhuyse’s interview appears to confirm that BAe/SAAB was always going to be government’s first choice regardless of what criteria were used. This is proven by Esterhuyse’s claim that at the cabinet meeting in question it was not even considered necessary to explore the merits of the BAe/SAAB bid in any fullness.
Esterhuyse believed this to be highly improper and his primary concern at the time was to prevent the Hawk from being chosen in this context as “it had not gone through a proper assessment regarding parameters.”
It is now absolutely clear from both Steyn and Esterhuyse’s testimony that there were widespread irregularities in the decision to choose BAe/SAAB as a preferred bidder in the arms deal.
The DA will present this and other evidence to SCOPA, which has kept the allegations surrounding the arms deal on its agenda on the proviso that new evidence is bought to its attention. The DA will also continue to pursue all the evidence available in order to ensure that the real truth about the arms deal eventually comes out.
With ackowledgements to Eddie Trent and the Democratic Alliance.