Zuma appoints commission to investigate the controversial multi-billion arms deal

CAPE TOWN. South Africa on Tuesday reconstituted the Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged corruption linked to a multi-billion- dollar arms deal.
Jacob Zuma. Net photo.
Jacob Zuma. Net photo.

CAPE TOWN. South Africa on Tuesday reconstituted the Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged corruption linked to a multi-billion- dollar arms deal.

“President Zuma has appointed Justice Willie Seriti as the chairperson and Justice Thekiso Musi as a member of the Commission,” the presidency said in a statement.

President Zuma will not replace Judge Francis Legodi who resigned from the Commission of Inquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Package.

This means that the commission could continue with only two commissioners, following Legodi’s resignation last week.

“The president remains confident that the commission will successfully complete its work.”

Legodi, a prominent member in the commission, resigned citing confidential personal reasons. His departure is seen as a blow to the commission’s credibility and public trust.

The commission was set up by Zuma in October 2011 to independently probe allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the arms deal during the late 1990s.

Public hearings were scheduled to get underway in Pretoria on Monday, but were postponed for two weeks.

The commission will investigate six areas, including whether any person or persons within or outside the government may have improperly influenced the awarding or conclusion of any of the contracts in the arms deal procurement process of the 1990s, the government said.

Former President Thabo Mbeki, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and former Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekotails are among those who will appear before the commission.

The arms deal, which was initially estimated to cost 43 million rand (about 4.3 million U.S. dollars) escalated to as much as 70 billion rand (about 7 billion dollars) to buy military equipment from Europe, has clouded South Africa’s politics for years. 

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