Call for Mbeki to open inquiry into arms deal

President Thabo Mbeki should open an independent judicial inquiry to probe whether South Africa’s multibillion-rand arms deal was corrupt, said the Sunday Times.

“If Mbeki has a clear conscience about the deal as he insists he does then he will appoint an independent judicial inquiry into the persistent allegations,” said the paper in its editorial.

“This is not just a willful demand from the media. A judiciary inquiry has been demanded by local political parties, religious leaders and anti-corruption activists,” said the paper.

The Sunday Times said it was ” eagerly” awaiting legal action by Mbeki for it’s article last Sunday which alleged he had received a R30-million bribe in an arms-deal contract.

“We have been warned by Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad that the president is taking legal action about the Sunday report. We are eagerly waiting,” the paper said.

The paper reported that Mbeki allegedly gave R2-million of the money to African National Congress president Jacob Zuma and the rest to the party.

In this week’s edition, the newspaper alleged that the German company MAN Ferrostaal, accused of paying the bribe, did not honour many of its promises it made to win the contract.

“It has been established that instead of helping to boost South Africa’s economy and create thousands of jobs, Ferrostaal’s offsets have left a trail of broken promises, court battles and dashed expectations,” the newspaper said.

The Presidency this week strongly rejected the allegations of arms-deal corruption.

“The report, which purports to be a result of six months’ investigation, is but a hotchpotch recycling of allegations that have from time to time been peddled against the government’s strategic defence procurement package,” said a statement from the Presidency after the Sunday report.

“The Sunday Times or anyone who has evidence that the president or anyone else received bribe(s) in the procurement process should, as we have emphasised before, approach the law-enforcement agencies,” the Presidency said.

The findings of the joint investigation into the arms deal had found no evidence of “any improper or unlawful conduct by the government”.

The Presidency challenged the paper to explain, among others:

  • The name of the United Kingdom specialist risk consultancy that authored the report on which the paper supposedly based its article and the reason for its concealment of the consultancy’s name; and
  • Its reliance on a “leading Central European manufacturer” that commissioned the consultancy to investigate the purported “questionable business practices” of MAN Ferrostaal to fend off MAN Ferrostaal’s attempted “hostile takeover bid against it”.
“By the way, the mystique attached to this information starts to ring hollow given that information about these competitors is easily available on the internet. - Sapa

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