Tutu and De Klerk call on Motlanthe to appoint arms deal inquiry

Letter from the two Nobel peace prize winners to the SA president December 1 2008

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Former President FW de Klerk Petition President Kgalema Motlanthe to Appoint Arms Deal Judicial Commission by 10 December 2008

3 December 2008

A joint letter signed by Nobel Peace laureates Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk has been delivered to President Kgalema Motlanthe's office on 2 December 2008.  Per the attachments, it reads as follows:

1 December 2008

Dear Mr President,

Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deals

1. We write to you as concerned citizens and in conjunction with the organizations listed in annexure A, all of whom are deeply troubled about the state of the rule of law, accountability and constitutionality in our country.  We address you with the request that you appoint an independent and public judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deals in terms of your responsibilities under section 84 (2)(f) of the Constitution.

2. You will be aware that there is reasonable apprehension that allegations of impropriety and corruption in the arms deals have substance. Three books have been written on the subject, details of which are set out in annexure B.  The authors are a retired banker, an historian and an economist who is a former ANC member of parliament.

3. In addition to books and extensive media exposes, there are the records of criminal proceedings against both Tony Yengeni and Schabir Shaik, and the judgement of Mr Justice Chris Nicholson in which he indicated the desirability of such an inquiry given the documentation placed before him.

4. Allegations of bribery by BAE to secure arms contracts are now under investigation by the authorities of seven countries, plus the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which holds oversight authority over international commitments on corruption.  BAE executives have even been detained in the United States for questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is public knowledge that the "Scorpions" have raided premises controlled by John Bredenkamp, Fana Hlongwane and others in connection with BAE's South African contracts. BAE is alleged overseas to have paid bribes amounting to more than R1.5 billion to secure these contracts, these bribes having allegedly been laundered through front companies in the British Virgin Islands and elsewhere.

5. We respectfully request that the commission is appointed by 10 December 2008, its commissioners and terms of reference being announced by you.  As to terms of reference, the widest possible investigation into impropriety and corruption is appropriate.  The commissioners should be required to indicate who, if anyone, should face prosecution and on what charges. There should also be an investigation into the possibility of cancelling arms deal contracts tainted by corrupt and fraudulent dealings, and recovery of payments already made.

6.The urgency of the matter is self evident.  The country is moving towards a general election, and the voters are entitled in the spirit of free and fair elections to be informed about what has become a major scandal in the country's political discourse.  Should you decline this petition, we respectively request that you furnish the reasons for your decision.

God bless you

Desmond M. Tutu
Archbishop Emeritus

F.W. de Klerk
Former President

This initiative has been undertaken by Advocate Paul Hoffman, SC of the Centre For Constitutional Rights and Terry Crawford-Browne, author of the book Eye On The Money.  The Helen Suzman Foundation is amongst the institutions that has subsequently endorsed it, and concerned South African citizens and civil society organizations are now invited to subscribe to the petition to President Motlanthe, and may do so by way of email to:

[email protected] or by telephone to 021 555 4059.

The significance of the 10 December 2008 deadline may require explanation. It is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Human Rights Day is traditionally the day on which the Nobel Peace Prize is conferred. Given global support for South Africa's struggle against apartheid, the international community had logically expected that human rights would be the foundation upon which our country's domestic and foreign policies would be premised.

Post-1994 South Africa has tragically failed those expectations, as illustrated by the HIV/Aids disaster and our government's callous attitudes towards the crises in Zimbabwe, Burma and Sudan.  We take pride in our progressive constitution, that South Africa is a constitutional democracy wherein the Constitution is the supreme law of the land where "law or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid and the obligations imposed by it must be fulfilled." Regrettably, the reality of the cover-up of the arms deals scandal has revealed a government disinterested in transparent and accountable public administration. Our government has given lip service to the eradication of poverty whilst squandering national resources on armaments which the country cannot afford, and for which the purchase was evidently motivated by bribes and corruption.

The arms deals have unleashed a culture of corruption that jeopardizes our hard-won democracy.  We fully understand that our government came under huge pressure from European arms companies and governments to buy these armaments. Given the current international financial crisis, we request the President and his colleagues to negotiate cancellation of these contracts, and to prioritise socio-economic upliftment of the poor.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Terry Crawford-browne