New arms deal probe requested

2011-05-01 12:31

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will on Thursday hear arguments for an independent probe into the country's multi-billion-rand arms deal, the Sunday Tribune reported.

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne is asking for a court order instructing President Jacob Zuma to commission an inquiry into South Africa's purchase of warships, fighter jets and other weapons from European arms companies. The deals were concluded in 1999.

Crawford-Browne argues in court papers: "The background factual matrix upon which I rely is replete with evidence and allegations which cry out for proper investigation with a view to bringing those guilty of possible criminal activity to justice... "

In their heads of argument Zuma's lawyers argue the Constitution gives the president discretionary power to decide whether to institute a judicial enquiry. They say that power was properly exercised by former president Kgalema Motlanthe when he decided against a probe.

According to research for a new book by former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, the true price of the arms deal could be as high as R70 billion, compared to initial estimates of R40 billion.

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