SA 'needs closure' on arms deal

2011-09-16 10:02

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma decided he owed it to the public to re-open the investigation into the arms deal, his spokesperson said on Friday.

"What he [Zuma] has concluded, is there is a need for closure in the public interest. This matter needs to be dealt with and exposed of properly," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told SABC radio.

He denied that the presidency had been under pressure to re-open the investigation because the matter was expected to be debated in the Constitutional Court in November.

"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."

ANC leadership battle

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

The Star quoted Aubrey Matshiqi as saying it was a strategy aimed at pre-empting his 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 made public soon.

In 2009, legal proceedings were instituted in the Western Cape High Court asking the court to direct the president to appoint an independent judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing, or to require him to reconsider his refusal to do so.

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. The matter was set down for hearing on November 17.

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

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