DA wants probe into arms deal

President Thabo Mbeki should appoint a judicial commission to investigate the 1999 arms deal, the DA said yesterday in the wake of new revelations.

President Thabo Mbeki should appoint a judicial commission to investigate the 1999 arms deal, the DA said yesterday in the wake of new revelations.

According to weekend news reports Britain's serious fraud office (SFO) was investigating alleged "substantial payments" from BAE Systems to a senior SA defence ministry official over the 1999 deal.

Britain's Guardian newspaper said the SFO was liaising with South Africa's organised crime unit to probe the accounts of Fana Hlongwane, a prominent businessman and former advisor to the country's late former defence minister Joe Modise.

Modise, who quit the post in 1999, was named in a South African parliamentary report that year as being involved in a company that stood to benefit about R40billion in the arms procurement deal.

The DA's Eddie Trent and Roy Jankielsohn said from the outset the DA had called for a judicial commission of inquiry, autonomous from the state, and with a comprehensive and overarching mandate, to investigate the arms deal in its entirety.

"Until this happens, new allegations of corruption and speculation about procedural irregularities will continue to haunt the ANC government.

"President Mbeki should appoint a commission to investigate the arms deal, he needs to ensure that it has a mandate, which means it is not accountable to the executive and can operate autonomously, and has the power to subpoena."

According to the Guardian newspaper, the SFO was investigating "substantial payments to a senior SA defence ministry official". The paper alleges Modise received a R7million bribe from BAE and R70million from the German consortium. - Sapa

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