The ticking time bomb that is the arms deal

In this week’s Mail and Guardian, cartoonist Zapiro takes on the ever-touchy topic of the arms deal. No elephant in any room has been so gainfully evaded, as members of Parliament, opposition parties and society call for fresh probes into allegations of bribery while the government remains mum.

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The cartoon depicts President Jacob Zuma sitting at his desk with ear muffs on. Behind him are a pile of ticking bombs, representing new evidence brought forth for investigation by authorities. Two delivery men are carrying yet another bomb — labelled “BAE bribery exposé” — into the room.

The arms-deal investigation started in 2000, when the-then Hawks launched a probe into money which was allegedly given to certain individuals within government in return for contracts to supply South Africa with warships, planes, and other items of warfare.

Since the probe began, a sizeable cache of documents referring to deals that took place and some that are yet to be proven, has been built up by the M&G‘s centre for investigative journalism, amaBhungane.

This includes documents about Swedish multinational Saab, which admitted to paying R24-million to consultant Fana Hlongwane, adviser to then-defence minister Joe Modise.

There are also references to further evidence that was submitted for investigation, which opposition parties have demanded be investigated.

Before the disbanding of the Scorpions, the investigative group issued a document with findings related to the arms deal, including evidence against then-defence procurement boss Chippy Shaik, brother of Zuma’s adviser at the time, Schabir.

Charges of bribery had been brought against Zuma regarding arms company Thint. Charges were dropped against the leader of the ANC in 2009, citing political interference into the matter and that there had been no evidence against him.

Banker Terry Crawford-Browne also submitted another application in May 2011 to the Constitutional Court for the investigation to be reopened after his previous attempts were set aside as there were already criminal investigations under way.

The latest bomb being carried into the room represents an M&G article last week on British company BAE Systems’ involvement in the arms deal and the extent of alleged bribes to “marketing consultants” in South Africa.

Find more on the arms deal:

For more on the arms deal see our special report:

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Deshnee Subramany
Deshnee Subramany is our loudest employee. After slogging through various positions in marketing, advertising, radio – and a cow suit – Deshnee finally found her way to the M&G as a content producer in 2010, and was then forced to grow up by filling the position of day editor of the website. Sometimes she puts on her radio voice and guest-hosts the M&G Newsroom.If she was a superhero she would be called the Feeding Frenzy. Her passion is South African politics and revolutions. This comrade loves setting her world alight by discovering new ideas and people, and isnt afraid to laugh the loudest.

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