DA wants probe into defence scheme
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has asked the Auditor General and Public Protector to investigate a so-called "cash for access" to defence officials scheme.
The request follows media reports that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and civilian defence secretariat have requested monetary contributions from the defence industry for work sessions at a luxury lodge.
The defence force has been "caught out" in requesting contributions of R20 000 from the defence industry to bankroll a work session for the Military Command Council (MCC), which comprises of all the service chiefs and division heads of the military, at the Zimbali Lodge luxury hotel, DA spokesperson David Maynier said on Thursday.
A letter from Simphiwe Hamilton, executive director of the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD), dated June 18, requested potential sponsors to make a minimum contribution of R20 000 intended to promote the good working relationship between the SANDF and the defence industry.
The contributions should, according to the letter, be transferred to a regimental trust fund set up by the SA Air Force.
Another letter, from Secretary of Defence Mpumi Mpofu, dated July 19, requested assistance from possible sponsors in the defence industry who would be able to help with an amount of about R100 000.
"In both instances, there are major conflicts of interests. This is completely unethical and possibly illegal," Maynier said.
The party also urged Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to intervene and ensure the work session was cancelled, an internal investigation launched, and any money already paid returned to the defence industry sponsors.
Business Day reported earlier that the scheme to allow defence industry companies to get close to the nation's military commanders was similar in style to the ANC's controversial progressive business forum, where big business bought access to cabinet ministers.
It was, however, potentially worse in concept as it allowed the manufacturers of defence equipment to buy access to public servants responsible for adjudicating the purchase of military hardware.
The issue would raise concern about the independence of the adjudication of military tenders, particularly if any of the major sponsors were in line to supply SANDF contracts in the future, the newspaper reported.
The MCC consisted of senior defence force officers who oversaw air, navy, army and medical services and advised on the SANDF's budget.