Pretoria - Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota was quizzed on Wednesday at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on how he handled a purported breach of the arms deal contracts by arms manufacturers.
Anna-Marie de Vos, for Lawyers for Human Rights, asked Lekota why corrective action was not taken when Rear Admiral Jonathan Kamerman left the SA National Defence Force and joined German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, breaching a contractual clause.
“The explanation you gave (to Parliament) was the following: 'The umbrella agreement of the supply terms does not make provision for 1/8a 3/8 legal member of the defence department who takes up employment with the seller. The legal relationship is between the seller and the buyer.'
“Whoever drafted this response (for Lekota) was under the impression that the rear admiral breached the contract?”
Lekota gave the parliamentary written reply in 2008 in response to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Rafeek Sayedali-Shah.
Lekota said the execution of the deal was within the department and was under the chief of the SA Navy Vice-Admiral Johannes Refiloe Mudimu. He said he only conveyed a response he was handed by officials in the defence department.
“This reply was what I was given at the time and I conveyed it to the National Assembly. If there was further clarification sought, I would have sent it back to the defence department,” said Lekota.
“I was not given any cause to pursue the matter further than that. They said the legal relationship is between the seller and the buyer.”
Unconvinced, De Vos asked again: “Mr Lekota, so you cannot give any explanation why you did not pursue this matter?”
Lekota said he could not attest based on the impressions of the defence department official who wrote the parliamentary response.
“If there is any other different development, such as now that there was permission granted (to Kamerman to join Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems) this situation would not have arisen.
“With hindsight and with what I now know, I would assume that if there was permission given then there was no need to pursue the matter,” said Lekota.
A clause in the 1999 multi-billion rand purchase agreements stipulated that the officials involved in the deal were not allowed to jump ship, at least within eight years.
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel will testify on Wednesday after Lekota.
Manuel was finance minister at the time of the 1999 deal.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand deal.
The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy. - Sapa