Presidency confirms arms probe resignation

2013-08-01 14:28
Gripen fighter jet. (File, AFP)

Gripen fighter jet. (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - Judge Francis Legodi has resigned from the commission probing the multi-billion rand arms deal, the presidency confirmed on Thursday.

"The president has received the resignation of Judge Legodi with deep regret, and after consulting with him as to the reasons for his resignation has decided to accede to the judge's request," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

"Judge Legodi has tendered his resignation for personal reasons and has requested that such reasons remain confidential," he said.

Legodi and Judge Hendrick Musi were appointed to help commission chair Judge Willie Seriti probe allegations of fraud and corruption related to the strategic defence procurement package.

"The president is satisfied that the resignation of Judge Legodi does not impact negatively on the integrity of the commission nor any of its functions, albeit that the timing poses certain challenges," Maharaj said.

‘Second agenda’

Zuma announced the establishment of the commission in October 2011. Since then, the commission has been dogged by claims that its integrity might be compromised.

A senior commission investigator quit in January. Norman Moabi, a lawyer and former acting judge from Pretoria, alleged in a letter, leaked to Beeld newspaper, that the commission was not being transparent and was concealing an alternative or "second agenda".

Moabi wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Seriti, that he was resigning because of interference and because he had lost faith in the commission's work.

"I joined the commission to serve with integrity, dignity, and dedication to truth. I cannot, in all conscience, pretend to be blind to what is actually going on at the commission," he wrote at the time.

According to Moabi, Seriti ruled the commission with an iron fist and facts were manipulated or withheld from commissioners. Contributions from commissioners who did not pursue the "second agenda" were frequently ignored.

On Wednesday, the presidency said Zuma was considering extending the commission's term by 12 months. It was scheduled to expire in November.

Dogging SA politics

In the wake of the latest resignation it remained unclear whether public hearings, which were scheduled to start next week, would go ahead.

Former president Thabo Mbeki, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota were among those expected to testify in the first phase of the inquiry.

The deal, which was initially estimated to cost R43bn, has dogged South African politics since it was signed in 1999, after then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille raised allegations of corruption in Parliament.

Zuma himself was once charged with corruption after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who won a tender to supply part of the requirements, was found to have facilitated a bribe for him from a French arms company.

The charges against Zuma were dropped in April 2009.
Read more on:    willie seriti  |  mac maharaj  |  jacob zuma  |  arms deal

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