Terry Crawford-Browne’s SOS to Dikgang Moseneke

2014-02-07 00:05

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne has written to acting chief justice Dikgang Moseneke asking for advice about the “farcical” commission of inquiry into the arms deal.

Crawford-Browne has also sent the Constitutional Court a “supplementary affidavit”, asking it to reopen his case, terminate the arms deal commission and declare the arms deals unconstitutional and invalid.

“I submit the cancellation of those contracts and recovery of an estimated R70 billion for South Africa is now a matter for the Constitutional Court to decide.”

In the affidavit, Crawford-Browne outlines why the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deals “has degenerated into a farce, which is simply wasting time and public resources as part of a further cover-up of the arms deal scandal”.

The affidavit appears not to have been lodged according to the ordinary procedures of the Constitutional Court, but it has been deposed before a commissioner of oaths.

In his letter, Crawford-Browne apologises for the “necessity of the unorthodox means of bringing the matter to your attention.

“As you will read in the affidavit I am indigent, having been financially destroyed whilst exposing the arms deal scandal and therefore I cannot afford legal representation.”

The commission was appointed in November 2011 by President Jacob Zuma, with Judge Willie Seriti as its head.

Before he became president in 2009, Zuma faced criminal charges related to arms deal corruption. The decision to drop the charges against Zuma is currently being challenged by the DA in court.

In Crawford-Browne’s affidavit, he makes mention of some of the controversies that have dogged the commission.

This included the resignation of attorney and senior researcher Norman Moabi, who resigned from the commission last January.

Moabi alleged that Seriti had a “second agenda to silence the Terry Crawford-Brownes of this world”.

In July, with the commission about to begin public hearings, Judge Francis Legodi resigned as one of its commissioners.

Shortly thereafter, a legal researcher, Kate Painting, also resigned, stating that “fear is a common theme at the commission and any non-compliance with the second agenda is met with hostility”.

Crawford-Browne also says it became clear to him that the commission had failed to provide him with certain documents related to the International Offers Negotiating Team and the Financial Working Group, both government bodies involved in negotiating the arms deals.

“It was immediately evident to me that these documents did not constitute the ... papers to which I was entitled,” he said.

Crawford-Browne is relying on a 2012 legal opinion by respected senior counsel Geoff Budlender, which states that the arms deal contracts would be invalid if they did not comply with Section 217 of the Constitution.

This provision requires government procurement to take place in “accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective”.

Crawford-Browne also alleges that Zuma had reneged on a promise to pay Crawford-Browne’s legal costs related to his 2010 Constitutional Court case.

That case was withdrawn by Crawford-Browne when Zuma appointed the commission of inquiry.

It was widely believed that Crawford-Browne’s imminent litigation had forced Zuma to appoint the commission of inquiry.

Moseneke is currently acting chief justice because Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is on long leave for the first court term of 2014.

William Baloyi, spokesperson for the commission, has previously defended it, saying widespread criticism was “regrettable”.

“We are obviously concerned about all sorts of things being said about the commission. Those things have an effect on the public’s perception,” he said.

“We are going to ensure that everything at the commission will be transparent and members of the public will be able to see for themselves.”

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