MP on mission to find 'missing’ satellite

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IOL jan 23  maynier may 23 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: DA MP David Maynier is not letting go of his mission to find out what happened to South Africas R1.2 billion satellite.

Cape Town - DA MP David Maynier is not letting go of his mission to find out what happened to South Africa’s R1.2 billion satellite, calling on Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to tell the nation whether there really was a satellite to launch next month.

This is the latest twist in the saga over the Kondor-E satellite, reportedly scheduled for its space voyage on February 27, from a launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to a news report from the Voice of Russia, Interfax.

Listing launches last month and in February, the report says: “The launch of a Stilet converted rocket with the Kondor-E satellite from Baikonur has been scheduled for February 27,” according to a source.

“The satellite contract is believed to have been bungled because, in the end, defence intelligence would have no control over the satellite and won’t be able to operate it from South Africa,” Maynier said on Wednesday.

And the ACDP has joined him, with its MP Cheryllyn Dudley saying there were now more questions than answers regarding the project, seemingly funded by defence intelligence through the secret special defence account.

“The ACDP has called on the Minister of Defence to account for the spending and (to) clarify the situation regarding the alleged development and existence of a secret spy satellite costing more than R1bn,” Dudley said.

The contract for a radar imaging satellite for defence intelligence under “Project Flute”, and subsequent “Project Consolidated Flute”, was reported to have been signed in 2006 with Russian company NPO Mashinostroyenia.

However, since news of the “missing” satellite broke, the only official comment has been from defence spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini.

He told Sapa the project was classified, but would’ve been audited by the auditor-general’s office and discussed by the joint standing committee on intelligence. That committee is the only parliamentary committee which, as a rule, sits behind closed doors.

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