Arms deal: Zuma, Mbeki set to testify

2011-10-28 11:07

Cape Town - Former President Thabo Mbeki, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota as well as Chippy and Schabir Shaik may be the first to appear before the judicial commission appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the multi-billion dollar arms deal that has cast a shadow over the ANC-led government since 1998.

Zuma himself could be called to testify, as Justice Minister Jeff Radebe explained on Thursday: "They have the power to subpoena anybody, including members of the executive… who can bring light to this issue."

Informed sources also said Alec Erwin and Tony Yengeni, the ANC’s former chief whip, are key witnesses who could shed more light on the infamous transaction.

Radebe said the commission, led by Appeal Court Judge Willie Seriti, would have sweeping powers.

No place to hide

"The regulations, among others, give the commission the power to subpoena witnesses, compel witnesses to answer questions, and the power of search and seizure," said Radebe.

Analysts said Zuma left no place to hide for anyone involved in the weapons deal.

"The brief is so clear and inclusive that one cannot improve on it; it is heartening," said Professor Marinus Wiechers, a constitutional expert and former rector at Unisa.

The commission has the mandate to subpoena anybody, including members of the executive and the current and former presidents.

Mbeki served on the Cabinet committee that recommended to Parliament to buy the expensive fighter jets, ships and submarines.

"He was a key figure and would know everything about the approvals and preparations. Manuel is another key witness," said former Judge Willem Heath, who investigated the arms deal in 2001.

Manuel signed off the loan contracts for the deal.

Terry Crawford-Browne, who submitted an application to the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to appoint a commission of inquiry, said Manuel had a clear hand in the transaction.


Dumisa Jele, Manuel’s spokesperson, said on inquiry that a judicial commission demands everyone's co-operation. "It is not optional. He [Manuel] was minister of finance at that time and it [the procurement of the arms] was a collective decision [by Cabinet]," said Jele.

Cope leader Lekota will also be an important witness in his former capacity as the ANC's minister of defence. "I have nothing to hide and will co-operate," he said.

Heath and Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC MP and critic, said Chippy Shaik - former head of weapons procurement at the defence department - also has a lot to answer for.
His brother, Schabir, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2005 for his involvement in bribery related to the arms deal.

Yengeni, also an ANC MP, was found guilty in 2004 of fraud and corruption relating to the scandal.

Radebe described the commission as a watershed moment for South Africa.

Contracts may be cancelled

Advocate Paul Hoffman, Crawford-Browne’s legal adviser, said the inquiry could lead to some of the contracts being cancelled and that the Treasury could win back up to R70bn. This includes interest and changes in exchange rates. The deal was initially budgeted at R47bn.

In his proposed remedies on the arms deal scandal which Crawford-Browne sent to Themba Godi, chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in August 2010, he writes: "In terms of the bribery clauses outlined in section 5, the government has the option to cancel these contracts and to claim compensation.

"The affidavits regarding bribes of £115m paid by BAE to secure these contracts are unambiguous, and the recipients of these bribes must be prosecuted.

"These contracts are underwritten by the British government’s Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD). The financial consequences flowing from cancellation of the BAE contracts would therefore fall to British rather than South African taxpayers."

Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said Mbeki has not yet seen the commission’s terms of reference and has not yet been asked to testify.

Radebe said the inquiry is not limited to South Africa, suggesting further scrutiny of European defence companies, including Swedish group Saab and Britain’s BAE Systems, which sold submarines, jets and other military hardware to South Africa in the late 1990s.

  • Thulebona - 2011-10-28 11:27

    Jacob Zuma is up to something... Watch this space...

      Francois - 2011-10-28 19:53

      No Zuma was not found guilty in any court of law. So yes you have it all wrong. The bigger question however is whether Zuma and Mbeki knows how to speak the truth. Maybe the commission should ask them if Mad Bob had anything to do with it.

  • Shane - 2011-10-28 11:28

    Watch out for a sudden relapse of Schabir. Death bed scenario again!

      Kevin - 2011-10-28 11:36

      Yeah ,but you just give him a shaik and he gets better

      karen.glautier - 2011-10-28 12:16

      hahahahaha, classic @Kevin, you get first prize today. that was funny! :D

      Faith - 2011-10-28 23:36

      Lol. Shane that's true.

  • Mzamo - 2011-10-28 11:30

    Let the battle begin and see who comes out clear, and how?!!! Hope all the top dogs will be snapped / nailed!!!

  • James - 2011-10-28 11:32

    The terms of reference for the enquiry are fairly broad. With three judges sitting, I feel the truth will come out. The question is that if the truth is revealed and corruption did exist are we ensured of a prosecution?

  • Tulani - 2011-10-28 11:34

    1 of 10 majority rule....Zuma is a free man. zuma calls the shorts and how da investigation mst go nad hu mst be called ( behind the scene) logically i can never open a case dat can come back and bite my ASS.

      Rob - 2011-10-28 12:06


      sean.redmond3 - 2011-10-28 12:18

      Huh???. "how da investigation mst go nad hu mst be called" WTF

  • Kevin - 2011-10-28 11:35

    Does anyone think these two are capable of lying under oath?

      James - 2011-10-28 11:47

      well if they caught, there is such a thing as perjury with resultant penalties

  • Kobus - 2011-10-28 11:59

    Mbeki must be nipping big time.

  • Jos - 2011-10-28 12:02

    Well, something positive about this one. SA is probably among the 10 countries in the world where goverment officals are willing to let such judicial enquiries to be done, even though massive pressure has been mounted to have this going.

  • Zukile - 2011-10-28 12:03

    Just another political score to those who want to stay in power.

  • David - 2011-10-28 12:18

    show us where anything done by the goverment turns out to show truth or not to hide the usual corruption they seem to thrive on and then we will not have to question?

  • THABOM85 - 2011-10-28 12:30

    This can in no-way come back to bite him. My question then is: What the hell is the old man up to? I bet the ANC elective conference has a lot to do with this.

  • Ntsindiso - 2011-10-28 12:36

    In as far as my vigilancy or political correcteness is concerned guyz, this does not guarantee neither Zuma nor Jeff political power and If that is how they forsee it whow unto them. The shift of the power as far as Maghaung(FS) conference is concerned the higher the shed of enquiries of this nature. Reference shall also be made to Scorpions vs the Polokwana conference.

  • ditantane.kganakga - 2011-10-28 12:46

    With both Mbeki and Zuma testifying the truth shall come out, question is who is going down.

  • Chabi - 2011-10-28 12:46

    T-Man, there in the distant horizon coming slowly and barely visible in orange, is not the rainbow nation... it's prison uniform, welcome back from forced retirement, you should have taken the olive branch, Zizi... now the goat hearder is coming for your opulent lawns of Oxford above hovering are the Fragattens, tables are turned and you have no protection, when you had tthe chance you could have finished him off.. The rape frame was a bad idea..even for him former ANC Head of Inteligence not that they are intelligent, they just prefer to call it that.. He must be pissed off now, Vengeance is his, jy ken mos wat praat ek ?

  • braamc - 2011-10-28 12:47

    What's the point, they are thieving corrupt politicians that is above the law. How's things going what that terminally ill corrupt Shaik, he dead yet?

  • Dean - 2011-10-28 13:24

    these corporations/companies continuously ride over human rights to have fairness avoided. The same corporation names keep coming up at the heart of scandals. It is time we take back our rights as governments/corporations/banks can never be trusted due to being profit based rather than the good of humanity being the overriding cause. It is time this world changes. Climate warming is a scandal from these sources as much as 9/11 was with the "conspiracy" being more obvious from official stories than the a better version of truth coming from that the "official" line states as "truth". All governments/corporations/banks are as corrupt as they come. Look at the apes of about the emperors clothes coming off!

  • Byron - 2011-10-28 13:27

    I say sweep it under the carpet and lets just forget about it.

      Dean - 2011-10-28 13:58

      That is the problem that robotic sheep create after brainwashing school. derrrrr....let's forget about it and "fall in line". Oooohhh, let's forget about it and vote in a government thta is racist and corrupt as they have a diffenerent colour to the last corruption. "Sweeping under the carpet" rather than learning, progressing and evolving as humanity rather than racism of black and white and backward disgusting policies of "let's employ blacks rather than whites" is more planet of the apes or planet of neo-nazi whites. When will this beautiful country learn that humans are humans.....not that "dirty whites that destroy" should be beaten by "dirty blacks with their snout in the dirty troughs drinking greed and debaulchery". No colour is better than the other and the disgrace is that an "alternative" government to the "reulsive wihites" is just an alternative to allow "dirty blacks". It is unbelievable that a new government displays "blackism" rather than "whitism" when all that matters is humanty. this whole thing and situation in South Africa is pathetic. Are we to have 50yrs now of planet of the apes rather than 50yrs of planet of the escaping nazis? Both are disgusting, repulsive, shameful and against Israel who appear to be no better than those supposed to persecute them. It is time that this "small mindedness" comes to a halt for it is killing too many people and making the 99% who should own the world even smaller than the 1% who feel

  • Meryl - 2011-10-28 14:13

    This could be the start of the Robin Island Old Boy's re-uniting in orange suits ... won't be a fancy dress either 0:)

  • Ndumiso24 - 2011-10-28 14:50

    no lat look this thing broad the country needs weapons to defend it's self let's not complain much. alghou this money will be paid buy us and our children

  • Buhlebuyeza - 2011-10-28 18:29

    You asked for an arms deal probe you said Zuma is a bad guy that why there no investigation, now your wish is granted you come with all this nonsense, I do not believe this you are all amazing, only your god knows what do you really want.

      Buhlebuyeza - 2011-10-29 10:36

      Kenny are you sugesting that we migth as well not have this probe at all

  • Oompiet - 2011-10-28 23:15

    He realised that his future as president is very blury. So he might as well clean up his name while in power.There's nothing more to this.

  • comurray - 2011-10-29 14:07

    I smell a rat or something.

  • Boknessers - 2011-10-30 18:11

    Case closed. Inconclusive evidence. The files can not be traced.

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