ANC top brass to face Seriti panel

2013-07-17 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Former president Thabo Mbeki, top Presidency official Trevor Manuel and other high-profile ANC members can expect a tough cross-examination when they appear before the Seriti commission.

William Baloyi, spokesperson for the commission that is investigating the arms deal, confirmed that cross-examination of witnesses would be allowed by the commission.

DA MP David Maynier said the extent to which they will be subjected to cross-examinations would be determined by the commission.

Other names on the witness list are Mosiuoa Lekota (Cope leader), Ronnie Kasrils (Deputy Defence Minister), and Alec Erwin (former minister of trade and industry).

These three were reportedly called to explain the real motivators behind the contentious transaction.

Witnesses will also appear for the departments of Defence, Trade and Industry and the National Treasury.

The first witness will appear on August 5 in Pretoria.

Although the commission is still within its budget of R40 million, Baloyi said the commission must in the interim apply to the president for an extension on its deadline as well as more funds.

Baloyi said the investigation was initially meant to last two years, ending this year. He expects approval on both requests to be a mere formality.

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne said he was still very worried about several aspects of the investigation.

He said the commission was asking for more time and money and spending 37 days to interrogate small fish in the government departments. Meanwhile, important witnesses like former general Pierre Steyn are not on the witness list.

Steyn resigned in 1998 as secretary of defence, reportedly because he refused to accept responsibility for the weapons transaction.

Crawford-Browne said another 26 days would be wasted to interrogate members of the Department of Trade and Industry in September and November.

“This while many of those who were involved, like the former director-general Alistair Ruiters, are no longer even involved with the department.”

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