Was Winnie arms deal whistle-blower?
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Cape Town - The well-kept secret over who in the ANC leaked arms deal secrets to the opposition, fingering high-profile party leaders in corruption, may have been broken on Tuesday with the naming of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The Struggle stalwart was one of the “concerned MPs” to have leaked information on the 1999 arms deal, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry, sitting in Pretoria, has been told.
“One of the prime names, in fact the leader, was Ms Winnie Mandela,” arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne told the inquiry on Tuesday.
Madikizela-Mandela was in a meeting on Tuesday night and could not comment, a man who answered her landline at her Soweto home told the Cape Times.
Identifying himself only as Hamza, he said she would return the Cape Times’s call, but by deadline had not done so.
Crawford-Browne told the commission that information in the so-called “De Lille dossier” had been assembled by ANC intelligence operatives working with the party’s MPs.
“In the months before the supply agreements were signed, ANC whistle-blowers produced boxes of documentation to support allegations of corruption and fraud,” said Crawford-Browne.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille testified at the inquiry this year and handed in her dossier.
She said in a statement on Tuesday night: “I have noted the statement by Terry Crawford-Browne related to the so-called ‘De Lille dossier’ and I would like to put it on record that I did not tell Terry Crawford-Browne that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was one of the concerned ANC MPs who handed me the documents.
“I am distancing myself from these statements made by Crawford-Browne.”
Pressed whether she was denying that her dossier mentioned Madikizela-Mandela or that she had spoken to Crawford-Brown, De Lille said: “I do not want to add anything or take anything away from what I said in my statement. It is what it is.
“Taking into account what has been said in other articles on the (news) wires, my statement should make sense.”
Madikizela-Mandela’s name cropped up when co-commissioner Thekiso Musi asked Crawford-Browne to clarify who had compiled the De Lille dossier – ANC operatives or MPs.
Crawford-Browne responded: “The operatives were working on behalf of the ANC MPs who were very suspicious in Parliament about the arms deal issue. They were feeling that it was a misallocation of resources given the circumstances in those days.”
Commission chairman Judge Willie Seriti pressed Crawford-Browne to name the ANC officials.
Crawford-Browne said the MPs had left Parliament “for one reason or the other”. He asked to hand the names to Judge Seriti confidentially, but the judge insisted that Crawford-Browne mention the names publicly. “I want you to give the names in public.”
Crawford-Browne then named Madikizela-Mandela.
He said the documents were given to then Judge Willem Heath in November 1999.
“Judge Heath had informed Ms De Lille that his decision would be made by January 2000.
“Instead of waiting for his findings, the government and contractors proceeded with undue haste as if to present South Africa with a fait accompli,” said Crawford-Browne.