Arms deal still needs to be investigated

2008-11-29 00:00

The African National Congress in the country’s Parliament has consistently rejected calls for a commission of inquiry into the biggest procurement in the country’s history.

This is no surprise as the MPs who were involved in the procurement of the R60 billion worth of arms are the same MPs who rejected the proposal for an inquiry. In short, they are playing both player and referee.

Arms procurement by governments worldwide is characterised by bribes and underhanded deals, regardless of whether they are First or Third world countries.

Governments and manufacturers of arms alike have masterminded ways and means of wheeling and dealing underhandedly without this being detected or tracked.

All these costs are incorporated into the final amount paid for the arms and some of the money goes back to the same officials who approved the arms acquisition.

It is almost 10 years since South Africa procured the multibillion rand arms but we are yet to reap the benefits of the arms we bought, if we ever will.

What escalates this degree of fruitless and wasteful expenditure is that more than R100 billion will be spent on maintaining these arms, which is almost twice as much as we initially paid.

A formal commission of inquiry will never see the light of day; however, an informal one is sure to take place in the build-up to the national elections to take place some time next year. I know you are already asking yourself what form this will take and my answer is: ANC vs Shikota.

Shikota leader Mosiuoa Lekota and his sidekick Mluleki George were defence minister and defence deputy minister, respectively, and they have been in the thick of things where arms and their procurement were concerned.

Gloves are obviously off between the ruling ANC and Shikota, and there is bound to be some mudslinging. Lekota has articulately illustrated that he has qualms about Jacob Zuma’s role in the arms deal, as well as with the rest of the new leadership which was chosen in Polokwane.

All ties have been severed between the two parties and they will be going for broke when real electioneering starts.

Shikota as well as other “snakes” are sure to make use of the information they have at their disposal against their comrades to their advantage.

Former president Thabo Mbeki was the chairperson of the portfolio committee on the acquisitions of arms and Zuma’s role needs to come to light, as well as the roles of other ANC MPs. Nelson Mandela’s role also needs to be questioned and former chief whip Tony Yengeni should not pay the price for others. Yengeni merely got a discount, while others got millions and got away with it . For now that is.

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