Mbeki to testify at arms inquiry

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IOL Dr Mbeki Summer School8519 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Former president Thabo Mbeki File photo: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - Former President Thabo Mbeki will appear before the arms deal inquiry in two weeks.

Arms Procurement Commission spokesman William Baloyi said that Mbeki would give evidence on July 17.

“The president was not subpoenaed. The president offered to assist the commission,” said Baloyi.

The commission is holding public hearings in Pretoria on the controversial 1999 arms deal.

“His appearance will complete the first phase of the public hearings,” said Baloyi.

Although much of the evidence in these hearings has focussed on only some of the commission’s terms of reference, Mbeki is expected to address all the areas if needed.

“We will deal with all the five terms of reference,” said Baloyi.

Mbeki’s evidence is expected to take a day or two.

Mbeki was deputy president when the arms deal started being developed, and headed the Cabinet sub-committee which oversaw the deal. Nelson Mandela’s government approved the deal in principle, then Mbeki was inaugurated as president in June 1999 and the deal was signed six months later.

On July 21, the commission starts phase 2 of the hearings, when evidence will be heard from arms deal critics.

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