Thabo Mbeki: Paying commission is normal business practice, not a bribe

2014-07-18 14:13

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A commission is a bribe only when it is paid to a decision-maker, former president Thabo Mbeki told the Seriti Commission of Inquiry.

“When a person who is not a decision-maker is given a commission, it is not a bribe,” he told the sitting in Pretoria today.

“This is normal business practice.”

He was responding to questions by Lawyers for Human Rights advocate Anna-Marie de Vos, who represents author Paul Holden and former African National Congress MP Andrew Feinstein.

Mbeki said if an intermediary was given money to influence a decision-maker but failed, then that money or commission was not a bribe. Only if the person managed to influence the decision-maker was it a bribe.

De Vos said she understood a commission to be a bribe, but Mbeki disagreed.

“The mere fact that a commission was paid is not a bribe. A bribe is if a decision-maker is bought,” Mbeki said.

He said no one in the inter-ministerial committee or the Cabinet had made decisions about the arms deal in a corrupt way.

“We’ve had to live with these allegations for a decade and a half,” Mbeki said.

He reiterated his call for someone to come forward with evidence.

The commission, which is chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the country’s multi-billion rand arms procurement deal in 1999.

Mbeki was president of the country at the time and Zuma was his deputy.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former public enterprises minister Alec Erwin attended the commission’s hearing today.

Mbeki’s wife Zanele was also present.

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