Moabi: JZ must act on Seriti

2013-01-21 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — “If the president won’t act, then South Africa must act,” former Seriti Commission investigator Norman Moabi said yesterday.

“What is important is what the person who set up the commission thinks. He must act.”

The commission probing the arms deal was thrown into uncertainty last week when Moabi’s resignation letter, questioning its integrity, was leaked.

President Jacob Zuma set up the commission in October 2011, but the presidency has declined to get involved in looking into Moabi’s allegations, saying it does not want to “micro-manage” the commission.

Moabi did not initially want to comment on his resignation letter, but said yesterday that action must be taken.

The commission has rejected Moabi’s allegations of interference and a “second agenda” as “fabrications” and has not said whether an investigation is planned.

A statement from the commission is expected today.

Former judge Johann Kriegler, chair of the legal organisation Freedom under Law (FUL), said South Africa should be “deeply concerned” by Moabi’s allegations.

“The fact that such allegations have been made by someone with insight into what is happening within the commission is unsettling.

“If the judge [commission chair Willie Seriti] is doing his job, he ought to clarify these allegations as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

“To try to ignore them or sweep them under the rug as nonsense won’t work,” said Kriegler.

He said the commission’s credibility and purpose were at stake.

“If there have been public statements putting the trustworthiness of the chairman under a cloud, the whole purpose of the commission would be destroyed before a word of oral testimony has been heard.

“A commission of inquiry, even under the chairmanship of a judge, is not a court, and cannot rely on the general credibility of the bench. It has to win and retain the confidence of the public through its words and deeds. Without that, it’s just a waste of the taxpayers’ money,” said Kriegler.

He declined to speculate how “South Africa” could act if the president declined to do so, or whether it would be possible to obtain an interdict against the working of the commission.

FUL last year applied successfully for an interdict preventing suspended crime intelligence head Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli from carrying out any police function. “The ball is in the commission’s court. I hope they will react appropriately.”

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