Arms deal comes back to haunt us, again

2014-02-16 14:00

Just how the government expects us to suffer under the illusion that the arms deal contracts were above board is beyond us.

This week, a damning audit of the arms deal offset contracts – which the department of trade and industry itself compiled – flies in the face of the smug assurances we have been fed by military top brass at the Arms Procurement Commission and by politicians over the years.

The arms deal was sold to us as a buy one, get one free economic panacea. We were told that jobs and foreign investment would flow should we shell out billions for fighter jets, helicopters, navy ships and submarines.

General after general has taken the stand in recent months at the commission, led by Judge Willie Seriti, to gush about how brilliant their new equipment is and how much they needed it.

But we were conned.

The department of trade and industry’s report, compiled after auditing a sample of 40 of the 121 offset deals, reveals that instead of the 13?030 jobs the German Frigate Consortium promised would be created by the production of a movie about Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom, only 69 resulted.

The report also reveals that at the Saldanha and A-Berth project mooted by the same consortium, 40?950 project-related jobs would be created between 2006 and 2015, but only 1?720 people got work.

And that can’t even be verified.

With unemployment topping the South African election agenda, these figures are a cruel hoax.

But we needn’t live with this. The contracts can be cancelled if any evidence of corruption emerges.

And there has been plenty of that.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we simply returned the weapons and got our money back?

But our politicians are unlikely to do so because then they’d have to return their ill-gotten gains.

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