Mbeki due to testify over arms deal

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IOL pic july17 thabo mbeki

Reuters

Thabo Mbeki

Johannesburg -

Former president Thabo Mbeki is expected to testify at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the country's multi-billion-rand arms procurement deal in 1999.

Commission spokesman William Baloyi said in a statement on July 3 that Mbeki's appearance would complete the first phase of the public hearings.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel and former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota are among those who have testified before the commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti in Pretoria.

Manuel testified that a mandate by former president Nelson Mandela to his Cabinet to properly equip the defence force resulted in the arms deal. Mbeki took over the reins from Mandela in 1999.

He was meant to have testified before the commission weeks ago, but his appearance was postponed due to the death of his mother, Epainette Mbeki, on June 7.

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, through the arms deal. - Sapa


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