Arms deal: Former defence secretary says govt flouted tender procedures

2014-05-14 14:29

Former secretary of defence Lieutenant-General Pierre Steyn has expressed concern about what he described as the flouting of defence tender procedures by the government during the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.

Steyn, whose position was the equivalent of a current director-general, told the arms deal commission in Pretoria that the tender process and policies that existed prior to the arms deal were neglected. Former defence minister Joe Modise apparently introduced new tender processes, which led to a “concerning mix” of policies that were used to procure arms.

Steyn, who left the defence force in 1998 because of the irregularities he had allegedly witnessed during the procurement process, said the government’s planning was not up to scratch as the South African government often entered into agreements without budgeting for the expenditure.

Steyn had been in the SANDF for 34 years before his resignation.

He told the commission, sitting at Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria, that: “What concerned me is that in 1998 there was no money on the 1998 or 1999 budget on this [Strategic Defence Procurement Packages] for Corvettes and Winchesters. I was not told about where the money would come from.

“Part of the Exchequer Act, which was in place, was that you were not allowed to embark on an expenditure if you haven’t reflected the need [for it] anywhere. This caused great concerns as far as I was concerned.”

Steyn also questioned why the government did not follow the existing prescripts, which also included clauses that the South African government could not enter into any agreements with private arms suppliers unless those suppliers were approved by their countries.

Steyn said that in one instance, Modise entered into an unsolicited government-to-government agreement with the British government during a visit to an airshow in London.

This, according to Steyn, was an irregularity.

But when Steyn indicated that he wanted to share his “opinion” about some of the irregularities, chairperson Judge Willie Seriti intervened and asked him to stick to facts rather than what he thought.

The hearing continues.

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