Investigate the arms deal, and the cover-up - David Maynier

DA MP says wide-ranging terms of reference are needed

Zuma's arms deal commission must investigate the alleged cover up as well as corruption

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has cautiously welcomed President Jacob Zuma's decision to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in respect of the arms deal.

The arms deal - and its cover-up - is the biggest corruption scandal in the history of South Africa.

The fact is that:

  • President Jacob Zuma himself is alleged to have been involved in arms deal corruption in connection with receiving payments of more than R1.2 million from corporate entities within the Nkobi Group, and receiving bribes to the amount of R500 000 per annum from Thompson CSF;
  • bribes were alleged to have been paid to top-ranking members of government; and
  • "forward payments" from companies involved in the arms deal were alleged to have flowed into every nook and cranny of the African National Congress (ANC).

The alleged corruption goes all the way to the very top of the ANC. A full independent judicial commission of inquiry will put some very big political fish at risk and will cause massive internal division within the ANC. 

There is the distinct danger that the commission of inquiry will be controlled and "contained" to reduce the fallout for the ANC. It is therefore imperative that the commission is given the teeth and the resources to get to the bottom of what happened in the arms deal.

The commission must therefore have wide-ranging terms of reference. It should:

  • be headed by a retired judge;
  • investigate whether there was corruption in all aspects of the arms deal - including the acquisition of military equipment by the Department of Defence, the National Industrial Participation Programme managed by the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Defence Industrial Participation Programme overseen by Armscor;
  • investigate whether there was any attempt to cover up and prevent a proper investigation into the arms deal within any organ of state, including the Hawks, Scorpions, National Prosecuting Authority, Auditor-General, Public Protector and Department of Justice;
  • have powers to subpoena witnesses and documentation;
  • be sufficiently resourced to properly evaluate and investigate the mountain of arms deal related material, such as the 460 boxes of documents and 4.7 million computer generated files in the possession of the Hawks; and
  • conduct its proceedings in an open and transparent manner.

This commission of inquiry must be a genuine attempt to uncover the truth. If President Zuma is serious about getting to the bottom of what happened in the arms deal, he will ensure the commission has these wide-ranging terms of reference and powers. And, if the commission reveals wrongdoing on the part of any individual, the law must take its course.

The devil will ultimately be in the details.

The DA therefore calls on the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, to announce the terms of reference and composition of the commission of inquiry as soon as possible.

Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, September 16 2011

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter