Kasrils defends arms deal

2014-06-10 18:33
Ronnie Kasrils (Photo: Twitter User)

Ronnie Kasrils (Photo: Twitter User)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Pretoria - South Africa continues to benefit from the spin-offs of the 1999 arms deal, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said on Tuesday.

Kasrils, who was defence minister Joe Modise's deputy at the time of the transaction, was cross-examined by anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria.

"Mr Joe Modise is quoted as follows: 'In return for our expenditure our economy will benefit by an estimated R110bn of new investment and industrial participation programmes and the creation of 65 000 jobs'," Crawford-Browne said.

"Mr Kasrils, may I ask, do you know of any shop in the world or any business that gives back a R110 change in return for a R30 purchase?"

Kasrils said the offsets from the arms deal had not been exactly quantified but were rolling in.

"We are benefiting on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. What is needed by the commission is to have real solid facts before it. I want to recommend a very serious study, not something journalistic," said Kasrils.

He said a former Armscor employee once studied the offsets and came to a figure of R110bn worth of benefits from the arms procurement.

"I know Mr Crawford-Browne and others might laugh or fall off their seats, but this can be tested. Our defence industry, including the jobs there, was saved by this whole process," Kasrils said.

Crawford-Browne said the arms deal's envisaged benefits were "illegal, fraudulent and unconstitutional from the onset".

He said some constitutional imperatives were ignored when the government purchased the arms.

No regrets

Under cross-examination by advocate Jennifer Cane, for the defence department, Kasrils said he had no regrets.

"I am proud of my role. We were engaged in an extremely historic import in relation to the security of our country. The first precept of the Constitution is the security of our people.

"The defence force needed to be adequately staffed, representative of our people and adequately equipped. Given the obsolescence of the equipment thus came the need to look at equipping the defence force.

"We proceeded in a transparent manner."

He said the strategic defence procurement package, as the arms deal was known, was a small acquisition when compared to other countries.

"Democratic governments the world over need to have a balance between the socio-economic upkeep and security of their people and the means to defend. I believe what we did was extremely significant."

Kasrils said several books written on the arms deal transactions were marred by generalisations.

"Perhaps in their minds the authors have a serious approach but there is nothing in their books that can be tested. They have huge generalisations and play on the fact that there could have been some aspects of corruption. That arises out of any major business transaction, be it in books, education, building of dams, and defence.

"To try and make out that it's the government of this country is off the mark," Kasrils said.

He urged the commission to look at the facts "not like an author of a book".

"Would the Germans go on having the BMW cars manufactured in East London if we were a country without a navy, without a defence force? You need to create confidence in your trading partners," Kasrils said.

He said at the time, even Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano was excited when South Africa acquired the naval weaponry.

"The fact that there is a submarine in your fleet gives any would-be aggressor a lot to think about."

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.

Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former finance minister Trevor Manuel were at the public hearings on Tuesday. Lekota is scheduled to start testifying on Tuesday evening.

Read more on:    ronnie kasrils  |  arms deal

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

Traffic & Train Alerts
Cape Town 06:44 AM
Road name: N2 Inbound

DELAYS between Duinefontein Road and the Jan Smuts Drive exit

Parow 06:43 AM
Road name: N1 Inbound

DELAYS between Plattekloof Road and the N7 Highway

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 30% off top fragrances

Get mind blowing savings on selected fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Today you may want to bond with your children and need to connect to your imaginative and playful side. It may be that you are...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.