Killing the arms-deal probe

2010-10-16 00:00

The sun has finally set on the arms deal, the biggest single contract issued by a post- apartheid government to date to buy arms and armaments that we as a country neither needed nor could afford. The recent decision by the Hawks chief, Anwa Dramat, to tackle the last leg the arms-deal investigations were standing on will have far-reaching effects.

Of course, the process of killing the investigation has been a painful one and started about three years ago at the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007. The powers that be did not kill the actual investigation but killed institutions that would give it life, like the Scorpions. This is not different from removing the canines of a greyhound dog meant for hunting and still expect it to come back with a kill.

It goes without saying the arms deal was an ANC excuse to milk the state and remunerate some of those who had contributed to the new dispensation. Among many comrades, there was a false sense of entitlement for delivering the democracy that we all enjoy, even those who supported and legitimised apartheid — even the former minister of Education Pieter Koornnof and his BEE/black wife. There was no legitimate way for so-called freedom fighters to be compensated for their role in fighting apartheid: besides, by living in townships, we were freedom fighters, almost by default.

It is shocking how many people the deal has touched, including former president Nelson Mandela during whose term this mess started and his then deputy Thabo Mbeki, who chaired the Arms Procurement Portfolio Committee. The Mandela Foundation is said to have received R500 000 from one of the companies and I do not expect a call for an investigation into this.

The beneficiaries of the arms deal would have to die before anything is done, by which time it will be too late. Investigations into former defence minister Joe Modise came to an end when he died.

It’s 10 years since the government hijacked taxpayers’ coffers when it approved the procurement of arms — are we naïve enough to expect gangsters to investigate themselves and bring themselves to book?

We need to be wary of some of these big money initiatives like the National Health Insurance. This is like treating the symptom and not the disease and, like the various social grants, it is not sustainable and will, in the long run, deplete our coffers, if the politicians don’t do it before then.

It’s interesting that ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has not said much about the arms deal. Is it because it’s too much like rocket science to him, or even craft work?

With the Chilean miners having been rescued midweek, I have a suggestion about what needs to be done with Malema’s clique: lock them down a mine shaft, especially as they are the self-proclaimed advocates of the nationalisation of mines and rescue them a day after the ANC’s policy conference — the same year the party celebrates its centenary.

One can only wonder how much there will be to celebrate.

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