Arms deal report a farce - opposition parties

2016-04-21 16:32
The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

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Johannesburg - Political parties on Thursday criticised the Seriti Commission of Inquiry’s finding that there was no evidence of bribery, fraud, and corruption during the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.

The ANC reaffirmed its confidence in the credibility of the process and welcomed the findings.

“The ANC trusts that the commission’s report will bring to finality the allegations and claims of wrongdoing in the arms deal,” spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday released the commission's report and announced there had been no fraud and corruption in the procurement process.

Zuma appointed the commission in September 2011, after the Western Cape High Court was asked in 2009 to set up an independent judicial inquiry into alleged corruption related to the arms deal.

The commission began its hearings in August 2013.

Zuma said the commission concluded there was no room for it to "draw adverse inferences, inconsistent with the direct, credible evidence presented to it".

"Government had been of the view that any findings pointing to wrongdoing should be given to law enforcement agencies for further action. There are no such findings and the commission does not make any recommendations," said Zuma.

‘Let off the hook’

The DA said the final report was “massively disappointing”.

“The expectation that those who were implicated in arms deal corruption, including President Jacob Zuma himself, had nothing to fear from the arms procurement commission, has been proven correct,” DA MP David Maynier said in a statement.

He claimed the commission refused to admit crucial documents, such as the final report by law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, following a compliance investigation into Ferrostaal, which was part of the German Submarine Consortium.

The final Debevoise & Plimpton report revealed Ferrostaal was concerned about “questionable and improper payments” to its own consultants.

“It is clear the arms procurement commission made no real effort to investigate the allegations contained in crucial documents, such as the final report prepared by Debevoise & Plimpton,” Maynier said.

The commission had effectively let those implicated in the corruption off the hook.


The EFF rejected the report and said it could not be taken seriously.

"The EFF rejects this report as an attempt by the corrupt ANC government to whitewash the irrefutable acts of corruption involving companies that were awarded contracts, as well as ANC officials, including Zuma himself," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.

"This discredited commission follows in the footsteps of other laughable processes instituted by Zuma and those who work tirelessly to protect him from prosecution and any lawful attempts to hold him accountable, for example, the ad hoc committee on Nkandla corruption being the classic case."

The party said it would make sure the arms deal report was dealt with decisively and that all involved were prosecuted.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa called it a whitewash and questioned why Zuma himself never testified at the commission. This was considering that a recording of an alleged arms deal bribe to him, when he was deputy president, from the French arms firm Thales, was used to convict his financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

"We note the timing of the release of the report, which is on the eve of highly contested local government elections. The ruling party is in dire need of a relief for it to be taken serious by the electorate.”

Holomisa said the ANC was using the report to strengthen its “compromised” campaign.

‘Farce, waste of taxes’

The FF Plus said the commission's report was a farce and a waste of taxpayers' money.

Its defence spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said the commission's finding that all the equipment procured during the deal was being utilised, was false. He claimed that at present, there were approximately 20 Gripen fighter jets in storage and which were not being used.

"If there were no irregularities, one can rightly ask why Schabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni, as the previous chairperson of the joint standing committee on defence, had been found guilty and sent to jail for irregularities related to the arms deal.

"The Seriti Commission once again showed that the arms deal is just another corruption scandal which will leave a scar on the ANC government," Groenewald.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  johannesburg  |  politics  |  arms deal

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