Lekota, FF+ lock horns

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

A war of words has broken out between Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus.

At the centre of the row are questions over the origins of a list of names of top South Africans alleged to have been given discounts on their cars by a German arms company that won part of the government's controversial arms deal.

Lekota, speaking through his spokesman, Sam Mkhwanazi, has denied revealing the list in parliament. He had only admitted that the press had published the list in 2001.

The list shows senior public figures, including former South African National Defence Force General Siphiwe Nyanda and Lumka Yengeni, received discounts from Daimler-Chrysler's sister company, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) company.

Former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni was also on the list.

At a hastily convened press conference yesterday morning, Groenewald insisted that Lekota did admit that such a list existed when he answered a question in 2003 on the matter.

Groenewald denied he had tried to mislead the media on the issue

He blamed Independent Democrats leader Patricia De Lille for saying Lekota had released the list.

De Lille yesterday dismissed the debate over the origins of the list as a "sideshow".