Culture of corruption unleashed by arms deal - activist

Johannesburg – The arms deal has unleashed a culture of corruption that now threatens the survival of South Africa's constitutional democracy, according to court papers.

Arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne has filed an application at the Constitutional Court, asking it to set aside the Seriti Commission's report.

In his affidavit, Crawford-Browne said: "The arms deal predictably unleashed a culture of corruption that now threatens the survival of South Africa's constitutional democracy."

"The further consequences have included massive increases in unemployment, the collapse of the rand on foreign exchange markets, widening of the gap between rich and poor, daily service delivery riots throughout the country, and the prospect of South Africa's investment downgrading to junk status – a prospect that will further aggravate the country’s poverty crises."

Crawford-Browne said he had requested the court to set aside the commission's report, and to "instruct the Minister of Finance to recover monies - now estimated at over R70bn - that were irrationally and fraudulently spent on the arms deal".

"The huge volume of evidence against British Aerospace (BAE), the German Submarine Consortium (GSC) and German Frigate Consortium (GFC) that was the very cause of the Commission's creation was left lying, un-investigated, in two shipping containers at the Hawks' premises in Pretoria.  Examination of other evidence was deliberately blocked by Judge Willie Seriti."

He said the Arms Procurement Commission was allocated a budget of R40m, and was charged to complete its work within two years, however, it took more than four years, and spent R137m in public resources.

Commission found no evidence of wrongdoing

He also claimed that the stagnant economy since 2000 was a consequence of the negative economic impacts of the arms deal and has resulted in dramatic increases in unemployment.

In April, Zuma announced that the arms deal commission of inquiry had found no evidence of wrongdoing in the deal.

Zuma said the commission also found that no evidence was presented before it to suggest that there was any undue influence in the selection of the preferred bidders.

The commission was appointed by Zuma in 2010 to investigate alleged corruption in the multi-billion-rand arms procurement deal.

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, as well as frigates and submarines for the navy.

"The fact that the Gripen aircraft are in storage further substantiates my contention that they and other arms deal acquisitions were not bought for any rational defence needs but, instead, for the bribes that would flow from the offsets," read the court papers.  

"The fallacy and 'red herring' of re-equipping the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] to meet its constitutional obligations was invented to divert attention from those realities. Predictably, the offset 'benefits' of R110bn that were the actual rationale for the arms deal did not materialise nor did the jobs."

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