‘Reports may reveal new arms deal dirt’
The Arms Deal Commission has asked Parliament to submit copies of all reports compiled by and submitted to committees relating to the controversial procurement.
Last week, the commission’s chairman, Judge Willie Seriti, wrote to Parliament requesting all documentation be delivered by June 15, Parliament said in a bulletin.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) investigated the arms deal and Parliament received reports from a joint investigating team comprising the auditor-general, the public protector and the national director of public prosecutions.
The Scorpions and Hawks had also reported to Parliament before their criminal investigations were shelved.
However, arms deal crusader and former MP Andrew Feinstein believes this call for documents could reveal new information.
The 1999 deal, in which the SA National Defence Force bought fighter and trainer jets, frigates and other military hardware, was mired in corruption and became a political hot potato.
President Jacob Zuma – who was indirectly caught in the controversy through his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik – set up the commission after years of public pressure.
Shaik was convicted on corruption charges related to the arms deal.
Speaking to The Sunday Independent, Feinstein said Parliament was the correct place to start, because it had been given “a huge stash of documents by the executive”.
“We were allowed to view (them) under controlled conditions. In addition, many witnesses also provided copious documentation.
“Then there is the evidence from the Scopa public hearing and our deliberations,” he said.
Feinstein said there could still be secrets lurking in the files held by Parliament.
“A number of the documents provided by the executive have never been made public as far as I know.”
Feinstein also believes the arms inquiry should extend beyond SA’s shores, since numerous international investigations have revealed bribes and kickbacks.
He also believes the terms of reference should be broadened “to include investigating the cover-up of corruption and the undermining of parliamentary and the Joint Investigation Teams investigations”.
Scopa chairman Themba Godi said there was “a trove” of documentation which the committee was provided with, which was “classified as confidential”.
“(The documents) relate to the administrative process as well as the contracts that were signed,” Godi said. “Scopa definitely will co-operate… Our committee has been seized with the matter, with its ups and downs and political upheavals,” Godi said.
Commission spokesman William Baloyi would not disclose who else the committee had contacted .
Baloyi said the inquiry was on track after two advocates, who were meant to be part of the evidence leading team, were dropped.
“The commission is not affected yet by the said action.
“The evidence leaders are going to be crucial at a later stage. At present we are dealing the submissions, a process closing (at) the end of July,” he said.
The commission is expected to take two years, with public hearings expected to begin in November.