Arms deal activist wants credible probe

2011-09-16 13:09

Johannesburg - Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne would withdraw his Constitutional Court case against President Jacob Zuma only if credible people were appointed to the newly announced commission of inquiry.

Browne said he wanted to see the terms of reference before considering withdrawing his case, set for November 17 at the Constitutional Court, according to The New Age on Friday.

"The commission has got to have reliable and credible people, not politically malleable people like those in the Joint Investigation Team [appointed by former president Thabo Mbeki which exonerated the government's role in the saga]," Crawford-Browne told the paper.

He first made an application challenging the president's refusal to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry in the Western Cape High Court in 2009.

He wanted a direction that the president appoint a commission of inquiry, that the president's decision not to do so be set aside, and that the matter be referred back to him for determination.

It later transpired that the Western Cape High Court was the wrong forum to hear the matter. An application was then brought in the Constitutional Court.

"They should tell the country why they listened to Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac, who convinced them that South Africa needed arms," he said.

Public interest

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told SABC radio earlier on Friday, that Zuma decided he owed it to the public to re-open the investigation.

"What he [Zuma] has concluded is there is a need for closure in the public interest. This matter needs to be dealt with... properly," Maharaj said.

He denied that the presidency had been under pressure to re-open the investigation because the matter was coming up in the Constitutional Court.

"The president thought it's time we had proper closure on this matter and he said: 'Well, the best way then, is, let's have a proper commission of inquiry as mandated by the Constitution."

Several media quoted political analysts on Friday morning as saying the decision could be related to the leadership battle within the ANC.

The Star quoted Aubrey Matshiqi as saying it was a strategy aimed at pre-empting Zuma's political rivals from using the arms deal to question his leadership ahead of the ANC's elective conference next year.

Maharaj said Justice Minister Jeff Radebe was working on the matter and the terms of reference and time frame would be announced soon.

Zuma's office announced the re-opening of the investigation on Thursday afternoon.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  terry crawford-browne  |  government spending  |  arms deal  |  corruption

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