Investigation of arms deal overdue but to be applauded
The Times Editorial: Corruption allegations related to the R60-billion arms deal, which have troubled our body politic for more than 10 years, will finally be properly investigated.
President Jacob Zuma, with his appointment of a commission of inquiry into the deal, has surprised even the most fervent of sceptics.
His decision flies in the face of the announcement by Hawks head Anwar Dramat last year that it was not feasible to investigate the arms-deal procurements because it would take his unit 10 years to do so and then prosecute those who had corruptly benefited from them.
About R480-million is said to have been paid in bribes by companies supplying fighter aircraft and naval vessels.
Announcing the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry yesterday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said it would be headed by judge Willie Seriti and would have the power to subpoena witnesses and compel them to answer questions. It will be able to order searches and the seizure of assets.
The commission will have the power to recommend action against any person found to have improperly influenced the awarding of arms-deal contracts, and to determine if the state could recoup money lost to it as a result of arms-deal corruption.
Zuma, who has in the past been condemned for dithering, will, because of this investigation, regain some of his public stature.
His decision to get to the bottom of the arms-deal corruption allegations, and to give the commission wide-ranging powers, should be fully supported .
The previous administration, under Thabo Mbeki, steered clear of the debacle, despite clear-cut allegations against a number of individuals.
The ANC should give Zuma all the political support he needs, even though some of its senior leaders have been linked to the corruption.
The ANC and the country need closure on this.