Ronnie Kasrils’ turn at Arms Deal commission

2014-06-06 09:54

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Former deputy minister of defence Ronnie Kasrils is set to testify at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal today.

Kasrils is the first of four top officials to appear before the commission. He was part of a ministerial team that took the decision to purchase the multibillion-rand arms package.

The commission has been plagued with postponements, adjournments and numerous changes in the schedule of witnesses since it began its work last year.

During the cross-examination of Admiral Jonathan Kamerman this week, the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) argued that the witnesses were being given preferential treatment.

Gina Snyman, for the LHR, told the inquiry that Kamerman’s statement was not made available in time. Snyman also pointed out that Kasrils’ statement had also not been made available hours before he was due to be called to testify.

LHR represents arms deal critics Andrew Feinstein, Hennie van Vuuren and Paul Holden, who are expected to cross-examine Kasrils today and Mosiuoa Lekota, Trevor Manuel and Thabo Mbeki at a later stage.

But they aren’t the only Arms Deal critics who want to cross-examine the top four witnesses. City Press understands that Terry Crawford-Browne has also flown into Johannesburg today to begin his cross-examination of Kasrils. He said he would be asking the following questions, among others:

1. Kasrils and Joe Modise:

“In 1999 you were then deputy minister of defence, and had had a long relationship with Mr Modise during the years in Umkhonto weSizwe. You were deputy minister of defence during 1994 until 1999.”

2. Offsets:

“The entire rationale for the arms deal was that R30 billion spent on warships and warplanes would generate R110 billion in offsets and create 65 000 jobs. How did they plan to do that?”

3. Corruption:

“With the benefit of hindsight and in light of your recent comments about corruption, do you now agree that the arms deal unleashed the culture of corruption that now afflicts both the ANC and the country?”

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