Welcome to the arms deal cover-up

2013-09-08 10:00

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne called on President Jacob Zuma this week to halt the proceedings of the arms deal commission, calling it a “farce”.

Crawford-Browne’s efforts to get to the bottom of corruption claims that have dogged the R70?billion transaction for the past decade led to the establishment of the commission.

But after three weeks of hearings, the retired banker has had enough. “It is a farce,” he said. “A gross waste of public money.”

Unfortunately, he is correct.

If you have followed the commission’s proceedings over the past three weeks, you would have heard an awful lot about the splendour of our fighting machines and how awesome our warships are, even though the majority of them are not operational.

What you would not have heard was the evidence of Rear Admiral Johnny Kamerman, the former head of the navy’s corvette programme, who oversaw the acquisition of four corvettes from a German consortium.

The lead partner in the consortium was German arms firm ThyssenKrupp.

In 2006, Kamerman joined ThyssenKrupp Marine as vice-president. Yet his name doesn’t appear on the arms deal commission’s list of witnesses and we will probably never hear the truth about his cosy relationship with one of the deal’s biggest beneficiaries.

You would also not have heard the evidence of Shamin “Chippy” Shaik, the former head of procurement in the defence department during the arms deal.

Shaik, the brother of arms deal convict Schabir, oversaw the entire procurement project and was himself implicated in receiving kickbacks from the Germans. A document obtained by the German police suggested Shaik asked for a $3?million (R30.4?million at the current exchange rate) success fee – in other words, a bribe.

Shaik (who plagiarised his doctorate) was last seen travelling between Australia, South Africa and Mozambique, expanding his business interests. His name is not on the commission’s witness list.

Another person who should have been in the hot seat by now is Fana Hlongwane, the former adviser (turned arms deal consultant) of then, and late, defence minister Joe Modise.

Perhaps this was the “second agenda” after all: to bore us to death with undisputed details about our magnificent fighting machines,

while the truth remains buried in forgotten steel containers.

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