Blacklist BAE - arms lobbyist

2010-02-08 19:14

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma should ensure that arms giant BAE was blacklisted from all future government contracts in South Africa, arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne said in a letter to the president on Monday.

Crawford-Browne also called for the summary cancellation of BAE's Hawk and Saab Gripen contracts with South Africa, and the appointment of a commission of inquiry.

Zuma should make the announcements in his State of the Nation address on Thursday, Crawford-Browne said.

His letter came after BAE Systems, the second-largest arms manufacturer in the world, last week agreed to a settlement totalling almost R3.9bn in the United States and Britain.

In terms of the settlement, the company agreed to plead guilty in the US to a charge of conspiring to make false statements in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings.

Under an agreement with the UK's serious fraud office, the company would plead guilty to neglecting to keep accounting records related to payments made to a former marketing adviser in Tanzania.

Judicial inquiry

Crawford-Browne said in the light of this, Zuma should appoint an independent judicial inquiry into the arms deal in the interest of "corruption-free governance".

He said in December 2008 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former state president FW de Klerk had jointly petitioned then-president Kgalema Motlanthe to appoint a judicial inquiry into the deal.

They were told to take the matter to the police instead, Crawford-Browne said.

He had petitioned Zuma in June last year to appoint a commission, but Zuma had replied there was "no case for an inquiry" and that his petition was "vague and embarrassing".

"That your advisers very seriously misdirected you is now confirmed by the decision announced on Friday," Crawford-Browne wrote.

"It would be illegal and irrational for you to decline to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry in terms of your constitutional obligations."

Crawford-Browne is a former banker, a member of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction, and author of a book on the arms deal, Eye on the Money.