Activists up in arms over Arms Deal


The four year Seriti Commission investigation into the multibillion-rand arms deal found that there was no evidence of bribery or corruption in the procurement process. PICTURED: Patricia de Lille

CAPE TOWN - The arms deal was completely above board -- that&39;s the finding of the Seriti Commission.  

Officials say there was no evidence of corruption, but activists aren&39;t convinced, claiming the report is little more than a cover-up.

The commission clears government officials of any wrongdoing in connection with the R70-billion procurement deal.

Government is clearly relieved, saying it can finally put the controversy to bed.

“We have been vindicated as we&39;ve stated for many years. There was no wrongdoing," said Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe.

Whistleblower Patricia de Lille says the commission was created to protect President Zuma.



“The dossier that I took to parliament in September 1999, it lead to two prosecutions: Tony Yengeni and Schabir Shaik. Where is Schabir Shaik today? He was found guilty, he was put in jail (and) released by Jacob Zuma. His still very much alive out there and the evidence in his case was heavily weighed against Zuma.




"When charges was brought against president Jacob Zuma - more than 750 - that’s when the NPA decided not to prosecute him. Now I put my faith now only in the independence of our judiciary because the constitutional court must decide later on this year whether they going to charge President Jacob Zuma or not. They think after 17/18 years that South Africans have forgotten about it ... we have not. We know that this whole commission was a white wash.” 



The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) agrees with de Lille.

"We reject the whole process. We knew that it was a white wash," said EFF Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu.

"Jacob Zuma is making a mockery of our country. He defies the constitution. He abuses the instruments that are there to hold everyone else accountable."

Arms deal critic Andrew Feinstein says he’s disappointed, but not surprised by the findings.

He also believes the report is a cover-up, as the Seriti commission failed to consider any evidence of misconduct.



He and two other whistle-blowers, Hennie van Vuuren and Paul Holden withdrew from the commission&39;s proceedings in 2014.

They accused it of denying crucial documents which allegedly proved corruption.

Feinstein says they are seeking legal advice on the commission&39;s conduct.



The Democratic Alliance&39;s David Maynier has queried why the Seriti Commission didn&39;t investigate payments made to consultants involved in the arms deal.

"I submitted a report which was called the Debevoise and Plimpton report, which was compiled following a compliance investigation into Ferrostaal, and that report revealed that Ferrostaal itself were concerned about large payments made to consultants," said Maynier.

"What the Arms Procurement Commission did not do was to, in the first instance, admit that report and in the second instance, investigate the allegations or the evidence in that report.

"In other words, the report makes it very clear that certain consultants received millions of Euros and that the commission then made no effort to, in the first instance call the individual consultants and the commission made no effort to investigate whether those consultants made forward payments, and if they made forward payments, who received those payments and whether those forward payments may have constituted a bribe?" Maynier added.




Another critic says the Seriti Commission hasn&39;t addressed fundamental problems.

"The whole premise of the arms deal was that if we spend 30 billion, we&39;d get 110 billion back in offset so it would create 65-thousand jobs," said Arms Deal Activist Terry Crawford-Browne.

"Not only did the offsets not materialise, they were simply vehicles to pay bribes. We probably got 2-percent. Two-and-a-half percent were paid, as in the German case, what they called unrefundable loans. But more particularly, which has been the thrust of my opposition to this right throughout, is that it fails section 217 of the Constitution regarding government procurements: that they must be open, transparent, competitive and cost effective.”

The ANC meanwhile, has welcomed the arms deal report.

In a statement, the governing party describes the report as balanced, saying all presentations were fully considered by the commission when it made its findings.

The Seriti commission of inquiry has dismissed all allegations of bribery, corruption and fraud in the procurement process of the multi-billion rand deal.



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