Sandile Ngcobo would be an ideal choice - David Maynier

DA welcomes possible choice of former CJ to head arms deal inquiry

Justice Ngcobo an ideal candidate to head up arms deal Commission of Inquiry

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the news that President Jacob Zuma has reportedly approached Justice Sandile Ngcobo to head up the Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal (see here).

Justice Sandile Ngcobo would be an ideal person to carry out this task of national importance. He is a highly respected jurist and his integrity is beyond question. During his time as Chief Justice, he showed he has the steady, decisive, intellectual and practical leadership that such a responsibility requires.

While the character of the person appointed to head the Commission of Inquiry is crucial, so too is the terms of reference he or she is given to work with. If they are too narrow, suspicions will remain that the Commission is driven by political interests instead of the public interest.

The Commission must also be given real ‘teeth' to ensure that its investigation is unfettered and its recommendations - whatever they might be - are fully complied with.

It is essential that the Commission:

1. Investigates whether there was corruption in every aspect of the arms deal including the acquisition of the military equipment by the Department of Defence, the offset deals under the National Industrial Participation Programme, and the offset deals under Defence Industrial Participation Programme;

2. Investigates whether there was any attempt to cover up and prevent a proper investigation into the arms deal by any organ of state including the Hawks, Scorpions, National Prosecuting Authority, Auditor General, Public Protector and Department of Justice;

3. Has powers to subpoena witness and documentation;

4. Is sufficiently resourced to properly evaluate and investigate the mountain of arms deal related material; and

5. Conducts its proceeding in an open and transparent manner.

In short, the Commission must be given terms of reference that are sufficiently wide-ranging to investigate not just the alleged corruption, but also the alleged cover up.

The Commission should also investigate the so-called ‘offset' deals that the government promised would generate R110 billion worth of investment and 65 000 jobs. Reports today indicate that very few jobs were created in comparison to the amount of money spent on weapons - a mere 6371 in fact.

This Commission of Inquiry is an important opportunity for President Zuma to show that he prizes the public interest over his own political interests. Appointing a person of integrity like Justice Sandile Ncgobo could be a step in the right direction.

Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, September 18 2011

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