Sisulu defends Yengeni's appointment
Cape Town - Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has defended a decision to select convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni onto a committee dealing with a review of the defence force.
Sisulu told journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday that Yengeni, a former Umkhonto we Sizwe commander, was "the best man for the job.
"Mr Yengeni was a commander in MK; he served as a chief whip in Parliament and he is one of the ablest we could find to deal with this matter of policy," Sisulu said.
"I chose him to be a member of the committee because of the role he played in the first review. He was absolutely essential in the first review we had.
Yengeni, she said, "was found guilty" and served a sentence.
He had since become a free citizen, "free to engage in shaping the views of this country.
"The matter he was accused of has nothing to do with the review," Sisulu said.
"What we are determining now is the policy and the views of the defence force.
"If anyone can find a person with experience of the defence force and MK and the views of the party that governs us...I am willing to apply my mind. At the moment with all those qualifications, he is the best person for the job."
Sisulu said Yengeni did not need a special security clearance to take part in the review.
"It is an open committee. Its job is to solicit the views of society about what kind of defence force we would like to see. No security clearance is required for this."
DA MP David Maynier last week called on Sisulu to fire Yengeni from the committee.
"The fact is that Tony Yengeni is politically toxic and risks contaminating the entire defence review process." he said.
"The fact is that Tony Yengeni should never have been appointed to this committee because he was convicted of fraud relating to the arms deal and sentenced to four years imprisonment.
"He is currently being investigated by the police for illegal directorships in contravention of Section 218 of the Companies Act (1973), which states that anybody convicted of theft, fraud, forgery or perjury is to be disqualified from being a director of a company.
"His values clearly contrast with the core values of the Defence Force, which include integrity and honesty."
The last defence review which aims to develop a long-term plan for the defence force, was conducted 13 years ago.
The Interim National Defence Force Service Commission recommended that the department of defence and military veterans undertake an extensive review.
The committee's chairperson, Roelf Meyer, also defended Yengeni's appointment.
"I find Tony Yengeni an extremely valuable contributor to the team," Meyer said.
"I would like to play for him as I am sure he is playing for all of us."
Meyer said the review would pronounce on the long term defence policy of South Africa up to 2030; provide guidelines for the objectives and functions of the defence force and its "strategic posture", defence capabilities and defence alliances.
"Our primary deliverables will be to provide the policy context for defence, including the policy philosophy and rationalise for the future force.
The committee has visited SANDF operations on the Lesotho border and will visit deployments in the Musina area later this week.
It will visit deployments in the DR Congo and Sudan in September.
It will also meet representatives of the African Union to obtain an understanding of expectations of the SANDF in Africa.