Court bid to set aside arms deal commission 'cover-up'
Civil organisation Corruption Watch and the Right2Know Campaign on Monday launched an application in the North Gauteng High Court to have the findings of the Arms Procurement Commission reviewed.
"The application asks the court to review and set aside the findings of the Arms Procurement Commission‚ also known as the Seriti Commission. This follows a relentless struggle by civil society for accountability in a scandal that was one of the most far-reaching in a democratic South Africa‚" said Corruption Watch in a statement.
"The Seriti Commission's findings cannot be allowed to stand. This review seeks to ensure that a great crime against the people of South Africa will not be whitewashed.
"Challenging the arms deal cover-up is particularly relevant given the struggles today against state capture‚ in an environment in which investigations of irregular procurement and large-scale contracts are increasingly hampered and suppressed. Those who are implicated continue to act with impunity and in most cases remain in their positions without consequences‚" the organisation said.
The commission was tasked with investigating allegations of corruption in the 1999 arms deal‚ which cost the country billions of rands in exchange for weapons through processes that lacked transparency.
However‚ after over four years‚ the commission released its report in which it found the following:
The equipment procured was necessary for the government to carry out its constitutional mandate and for South Africa to meet international obligations in respect of peace-keeping;
All equipment acquired was being well-utilised;
It is likely that the number of jobs created or retained through the deal will be 11916;
"Not an iota of evidence" showed that any of the money received by any of the consultants was paid to any officials.
But papers filed at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday allege that the commission failed to conduct a proper investigation‚ "refused to consider thousands of pages of evidence from previous investigations‚ and failed to gather or admit highly incriminating evidence despite having the power to do so".
"Taken together‚ this behaviour shows that the commission grossly failed in its mandate to fully investigate and uncover the truth about the arms deal. This deal has deeply corrupted the politics of South Africa‚ and sits at the heart of the country’s fight against corruption and 'state capture'.
"The commission’s failure to provide the public with the truth undermines the country's attempts to fight these struggles‚" said the statement.
This echoes long-standing accusations levelled by arms deal whistle-blower Richard Young questioning the credibility of the commission.
Zuma - then deputy president - was linked to the deal through his former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik‚ was jailed for corruption.
This almost torpedoed Zuma's bid for president but all charges against him were dropped in 2009
The total expenditure on the arms deal from 2000-2001 to 2013-2014 amounted to R46.7 billion‚ not the R30 billion as envisaged in 2009.