A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
14 February 2001
SPECIAL REVIEW OF STRATEGIC ARMS ACQUISITION: DEPUTY PRESIDENT'S LETTER
Chairperson: Mr Gavin Woods (IFP)
Auditor General's Report: Selection Process of the Strategic Defence Packages
Fourteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
- Media Statement on the Strategic Defence Procurement Package from Ministers of Defence, Trade and Industry, Finance and Public Enterprises
- Letter to Dr Gavin Chairperson Woods, Chairperson of Standing Committee on Public Accounts, from Mr Jacob Zuma, Leader of Government Business, dated 19 January 2001 (See Appendix)
[Editor's Note: What follows is an edited first person account of the meeting]
Chairperson Woods: There are between seventeen and twenty SCOPA reports outstanding since last year from the Auditor General.
(The Committee agreed not to process these reports at this stage.)
Workshop Programme 20 February
Chairperson Woods: The purpose of the workshop on 20 February is to reflect on last year's business plan, performance and objectives, and to develop a 2001 plan including expansion of the work load. The relationship with the parliamentary Planning Committee must be reviewed since, unlike other committees, SCOPA's role is not to process legislation.
Chairperson Woods: The speaker has reminded us that the Fourteenth report needs follow-up. The cost to the state of the arms acquisitions has escalated from R30 billion to R43 billion. Prices for the Hawks and Gripens are still to be obtained from the
Department of Defence.
Mr Doidge (ANC): Shouldn't we wait for the investigators rather than duplicate their work?
Ms Taljaard (DP): We did not abdicate our responsibilities, as implied by the Speaker. Our investigation includes the escalations of cost.
Dr Koornhof (UDM): The Committee should pursue its investigation in conjunction with the Auditor General and the Ministers.
(The Committee agreed to go forward with the investigation.)
Offsets and economic benefits of the NIPS:
Chairperson Woods: The Committee wishes to have biannual reports on implementation.
Beukman: Wouldn't it be easier to get the Minister's report-backs in conjunction with a report from the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee on its hearings?
Chairperson Woods: I suggest we should express concern that the job creation expectations may have been unduly optimistic, and that we thank the Trade and Industry Committee for having held hearings. A letter has been received from the chair of that Committee, and I suggest that we arrange a meeting.
Ms Taljaard (DP): The Minister said that fifteen percent of the projects had already been implemented. We would like documentation.
Mr Kannemeyer ANC): We have asked the Trade and Industry Committee to express its opinion on the optimism of the job estimates.
Chairperson Woods: A thorough post-mortem of the Auditor General's progress in reviewing the practices and conflicts of interest are being addressed.
(Representative of Attorney General's office): We intend to report back on best practices.
Chairperson Woods: We will follow-up, but no action is needed at present.
Ms Taljaard: The Department of Defence held a meeting yesterday on acquisition policies. The Portfolio Committee on Defence suggests a meeting with SCOPA.
Mr Doidge: We must be careful about the relationship between SCOPA and other committees. We would send the wrong message if we asked other committees to report to SCOPA rather than the National Assembly. SCOPA is not a super-committee.
Ms Taljaard: SCOPA has regularly met with other committees. I have written to the Committee on Public Enterprises raising concern about the BAe/Denel offsets.
Chairperson Woods: I suggest that we write to the chairs of committees to smooth out liaison.
Mr Beukman: Rule 208 gives the Chair the authority to liase with other committees.
Special Forensic Investigation
Chairperson Woods: We said in the report that once the investigation is established, the Committee would issue a brief and also request regular reports. Yesterday, Jeff Doidge and I met the three agencies and the Speaker regarding documentation held by SCOPA, and discussed availability arrangements. The investigators are not obliged to inform us about details of their pursuits. Legal advice is being obtained on the final report on detailed findings and the approach of the investigators. There is no question but that the three units must account to SCOPA.
Ms Taljaard: On what authority did Madam Speaker meet the investigators?
Chairperson Woods: She is Speaker of the National Assembly.
(Representative of AG's Office): The Speaker requested the meeting with the three agencies.
Mr Beukman: Concerned that the minority parties were not invited to that meeting.
Chairperson Woods: I take the point, and it will be considered in future.
Ms Taljaard: We have grave reservations about that meeting and its composition.
Mr Gumede: I propose that this issue be placed on the workshop agenda regarding the sensitivity of representation.
Chairperson Woods: We undertook to issue a brief to the investigators expressing concerns about particular issues.
Dr Koornhof: The Committee should task the sub-group to draft the brief.
Mr Smith (ANC): What brief are we going to develop since the Auditor General has declared that he has the capacity to investigate the acquisitions? What added value will come out of the brief? We should not pretend that we are super-auditors. We've given them a brief to investigate everything. Extending a brief could be too limited. Let's encourage the investigators to investigate everything.
Chairperson Woods: Perhaps the sub-group should take those comments on board.
Mr Kannemeyer: The Auditor General has already given us a report with six areas of investigation, including the budget. The fourteenth report is the brief.
Mr Nair (ANC): The briefing has already been done on November 13, and the investigators have already acted.
Ms Taljaard: Concern that we may cherry-pick the fourteenth report. We can't drop certain issues, including the intention to issue a brief.
Smith: Who is the sub-group? The names were decided on January 25. [The Secretariat agreed to circulate lists of names].
Chairperson Woods: We are obligated to issue a second report in 2001 dealing with the issues we would be investigating.
Mr Doidge: I don't think we should restrict the number of reports, given the public interest. Can't we find a means of speeding up reporting to the National Assembly to assure the public that we are doing our work? The media is playing an important role.
Chairperson Woods: We await a meeting with the four ministers to consider their six page press release.
Chairperson Woods: The Minister of Finance has given us the afternoon of 26 February, and the Minister of Public Enterprises has confirmed his availability. The other two ministers have been asked whether they can fit in.
Access to Information
Ms Taljaard: The Department of Defence has asked for the return of classified documents. We have asked for access to those documents. These documents are material to our meeting with the four ministers. Access to that documentation must be non-negotiable.
Mr Makwetla: What is the nature and topics of these documents?
Chairperson Woods: Prime contracts between South Africa and foreign suppliers and governments, NIPS and DIPS, Cabinet minutes and decisions, Cabinet sub-committee minutes, affordability study by the Treasury, and tendering documentation and submissions of offers.
Mr Makwetla: What is the usefulness of those documents to us as SCOPA. As a Committee we don't have the capacity to conduct the investigation.
Mr Bruce (ANC): Are these documents secret or confidential? Is it a matter of saving people from embarrassment, or is the security of the State involved?
Ms Taljaard: Access to this documentation is material because of the constitutional relationship between Parliament and the Executive. This information is essential to all members of SCOPA.
Mr Handik (Custodian of documents): The documents are confidential -- rule 157. They are in the custody of Parliament. The Speaker confirmed that the documents are available to SCOPA. What access do the members need to the documents, which are available only to the members of SCOPA and not to their staff? Disclosure of information would be a breech of parliamentary privilege. The Chair should identify who may obtain the documentation, and the people with the keys should be given adequate notice. No copies are to be made. There are two big stacks. Which particular documents will be required?
Mr Bruce: Can we have a list of the documents? Can this committee now decide to declassify the documents?
Mr Green (ACDP): I would suggest that the documents do not leave the room, that we apply the same procedures as does the Committee on Intelligence, and that notes also do not leave the room.
Arrangements were made for SCOPA members to meet Mr Handik at 4:30 that afternoon.
The Deputy President's Letter
Mr Holomisa: Madam Speaker explained her role, and her explanation did not influence us to change the fourteenth report. Her letter should not cloud the issues. We should not get involved in the correspondence between the Speaker and the Deputy President. As regards Deputy President Zuma, we should refer him to the investigating team and
The fourteenth report. If not satisfied, he should complain to the National Assembly which approved the report. We should express our disappointment with the manner and contempt with which he addressed this committee.
Mr Doidge: We are in line with that thinking. Our interpretation of the November 13 meeting was that whatever might have happened, we accept that Gavin Woods as chair acted in good faith. Therefore, we do not want to reopen that meeting, and wish to move on. It was not correct for the SCOPA chair to write to the President, or for the Deputy President to write to the chair of SCOPA. Let's not compound those mistakes. The Deputy President's second letter expressed some satisfaction after the Speaker's letter. I don't think we should respond line-by-line. Some of the issues will be responded to in the meeting with the ministers, others by the investigators' reports.
Mr Bruce: I assume that your letter to President Mbeki requested a proclamation, and I cannot believe you were wrong. I am concerned by the intervention of the Speaker because she has compromised the integrity of her office and this committee. The issues the Deputy President raises are peripheral and often childish. In what capacity is he writing? If he wants to tell the Committee that we are wrong, he should come here to tell us.
Ms Taljaard: Jeff Doidge raised the issues of the differences of interpretation. He said that Gavin Woods's letter to the President was wrong. The letter to us is from the Deputy President, and it goes to the role of Parliament. We cannot disengage from these issues. The fault line will continue to plague SCOPA unless we stop brushing these issues aside. Resolving it will not be dealt with by General Holomisa's proposal.
Mr Smith: No amount of cajoling will get us away from the differences of November 13. SCOPA's role is oversight over public monies. The right or wrong of SCOPA's correspondence with the Deputy President is not the domain of SCOPA. This is the wrong forum. Let Madam Speaker take up the relationship between Parliament and the Executive. Our prime function is to make sure that the investigation continues. Our workload is such that we should not take on additional unnecessary burdens.
Mr Doidge: Mr Bruce said that the Deputy President and Speaker were attempting to intimidate SCOPA. I disagree, and I don't think it is helpful to respond in this manner.
Ms Taljaard: The question is whether the constitutional issue is SCOPA's or the National Assembly's. It is not correct to say that Madam Speaker should take this issue. SCOPA has a role to play.
Dr Koornhof: The four ministers publicly attacked SCOPA, and we have invited them to explain themselves. I propose that we likewise invite the Deputy President.
Mr Smith: The government contests the SCOPA report.
Dr Koornhof: I suggest that deliberately ignoring the Deputy President's letter itself sends out a strong and wrong signal.
Mr Doidge: We have a parliamentary Rules Committee of which we are all members. It is not within the competency of SCOPA to take up the constitutional issues of Parliament and the Executive.
Mr Makwetla: Mr Chair, we lament the baggage that SCOPA has brought upon itself, and the manner in which the Committee has done its work. I believe we must look into General Holomisa's proposal. Where would The Honorable Taljaard's arguments take us? Parliament must respond to the issues raised by the Deputy President, but it is critical to realise that the purpose of SCOPA is to press for the investigation. As chair, you should be taking SCOPA forward.
Mr Smith: You should do what is expected of a chairperson. The majority of this committee has supported General Holomisa's proposal. The decision of the majority must prevail. I ask you as chair to give us direction.
Ms Taljaard: The view is expressed that oversight should go to a parliamentary committee dealing with oversight. Yet that committee has been unable to issue a report regarding the Minister of Justice. SCOPA's case study will be incomplete unless SCOPA expresses the view of the Parliamentary/Executive experience. We cannot hive off SCOPA's experience to the rules committee.
Mr Kannemeyer: The General was quite clear. Doidge was clear that the chair has not dealt properly with certain matters. It is critical to me that members of SCOPA must not mislead the public. The Honourable Member Smith says that the Deputy President's letter says that the government is contesting SCOPA. Where does it say that? I have read the letter ten times. Why this fabrication?
Mr Bruce: The government's response has been problematic. We have not had a previous occasion when four ministers said this committee did not understand its work. Plus the President, the Deputy President and the Speaker. This is an unprecedented onslaught on a parliamentary committee. This cannot be fobbed off onto the rules committee. Four ministers have offered to explain themselves, and the Speaker's letter was helpful. The Deputy President says that he is writing with the authorisation of the President. This Committee must deal with it. The Democratic Alliance has gone out of its way to be helpful, but Executive interference remains the sticking point.
Mr Doidge: May we have direction on how to proceed?
Mr Gumede: May I simply ask the chair to direct the meeting?
Chairperson Woods: I was hoping for some consensus. No committee has had to contend with such a situation. We did not create these issues, but they cannot be ignored. We have a way forward with four ministers.
As regards the Deputy President, what is right? Our work is under question. Do we defend our work, when all parties say that they support the fourteenth report? Was our work misguided: even my integrity is attacked. The dismissive approach of General Holomisa would be one approach. But what of the criticisms of our work? On at least eight occasions the Committee is accused of saying that the government and foreign governments are corrupt. Do we ignore those accusations, or do we defend our work and our intentions?
What is our responsibility to Parliament, and to the people of South Africa? How do we check out whether the Deputy President's accusations may be right? It is not in the country's interest to run away from the engagement.
Mr Smith: Your question about the best defence of SCOPA. We must take collective ownership of what has transpired. The vindication will be when the report is made. The way to vindication will be the result of the report. It might be too long for us to wait as humans, but not for Parliament. We have agreed to the investigation. We must wait. The report will be the vindication. We must hope that the delay will be short, and that the report is as comprehensive as possible.
Chairperson Woods: Collective responsibility: I do not yet see where SCOPA has gone wrong. What are the facts?
Mr Holomisa: My thinking in a letter to the Deputy President was to qualify our disappointment that he was seen to be undermining the work of SCOPA. Plan B: it might not be a bad idea for you to seek a meeting with the Deputy President and assure him that SCOPA will not renege on the National Assembly's decision. He might even agree to Heath. We can collectively defend you in the letter to the Deputy President.
Chairperson Woods: Thank you for your constructive response. I might like the Democratic Alliance's proposals, but does it make tactical sense to take on the Deputy President? Perhaps a meeting and joint statement can be pursued that will capture our concerns.
The meeting was adjourned.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT: REPUBLlC OF SOUTH AFRICA
January 19, 2001
Dear Mr Woods,
l write to you about the issue of the defence acquisition, which, unfortunately and unnecessarily has become a matter of controversy.
In this regard, I thank you for your letter to the President dated 8 December, 2000, with whose authorisation I am sending this communication to you.
The Executive has no desire to fuel controversy. However, we are obliged to defend the integrity of government.
I enclose for your information two documents, these being:
1. The January l2, 2001 Government Statement of the Defence Acquisition; and
2. The January 15, 2001 letter to the President of the Minister of Justice on the issue of the "Heath Unit".
From these documents, you will see that the Government contests the conclusions arrived at by the Auditor General and SCOPA.
Furthermore, we are convinced that, in addition to the requirement for us to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court, there is no need for the "Heath Unit" to be involved in any "investigation" of the defence acquisition.
We do not understand why you, presumably on behalf of your parliamentary committee, suggest that we should ignore the decision of the Constitutional Court on the "Heath Unit".
The reasons for granting the Executive and the Legislature a period of a year to sort out this matter are clearly set out in the Constitutional Court judgement.
Throughout the judgement, the Court makes it clear that by granting a one year 'grace' period, it wishes to protect the Unit's work that is "being done". t refers to "persons being investigated". It further stated that Judge Heath "continues temporarily to be head of the Unit until appropriate arrangements are made for his replacement."
With regard to this last point, the President of the Constitutional Court, speaking on behalf of the Court, said:
"Although there may be reasons for allowing sufficient time for all matters to be dealt with simultaneously, there are good reasons for the first respondent's (Judge Heath) position as the head of the SW to be regularised without undue delay."
In other words, the Constitutional Court required of us that Judge Heath be relieved of his duties without undue delay
You will also have seen that during the course of his judgement, the President of the Constitutional Court makes the following observation, concerning the uncompleted work of the SIU:
"The SIU is currently engaged in investigations into approximately 100 organs of state said to involve 22l580 cases. The investigations extend over all 9 provinces and include 12 national investigations."
By any account, this is a very considerable volume of work that is currently being handled by the SIU. As Minister Maduna has indicated, it would clearly be absurd and illogical for additional work to be given to this Unit, if this was legally possible.
In the light of everything we have said above, we find it very odd indeed that the Auditor General, according to your letter, is also keen that we act without reference to the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Let me also mention that we find it strange that a parliamentary committee (SCOPA) considers expenditure for the acquisition of defence equipment as a "major diversion of public resourcesâ€¦" requiring to be balanced by a "social payback".
As parliamentarians you must surely be aware of our common Constitutional obligation to maintain a national defence force, which, according to the Constitution, shall have the "primary object":
"to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people, in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force."
In addition, this expenditure was considered by the parliamentary Defence Committee and approved by parliament
I would also like to deal with other matters of grave concern to our Government, including the President,
The first of these arise from the Report of SCOPA which was accepted by the National Assembly on November 2, 2000.
The critical issue in this regard is that SCOPA states that it is interested to carry out an investigation because our Government, foreign Governments and the prime contractors, major international companies, are prone to corruption and dishonesty.
If this is in fact the starting point for SCOPA, it seems that the investigation you seek is tantamount to a fishing expedition to find the corruption and dishonesty you assume must have occurred.
To illustrate these assertions, let me quote some passages from the SCOPA Report.
"By many accounts the international arms trade industry experiences a high incidence of malpractice, with purchasing countries often having been the victims of very costly exploitation. With this in mind, the Committee has considered the transactions and the broader financial and fiscal implications pertaining to the recent South African arms purchases."
Who gave what accounts to SCOPA?
Further the Report states:
"With international armaments markets havingâ€¦recovered, the Committee fears that the large commitments by suppliers might now be resisted and even reneged upon. With South Africa unlikely to be a serious arms purchaser over the next few decades, this possibility needs to be watched closely."
What study has SCOPA done which shows the recovery of the international armaments markets and the possible response of the 'suppliers' to this development?
Further the Report says:
"Because of the possibilities of improper influence having been exerted in certain of these selections, further investigation is considered necessary."
What assessment did SCOPA carry out to establish the existence of these 'possibilities', which are these selections and why them and not others?
Further, again, the Report states:
"The Committee is concerned about the possible role played by influential parties in determining the choice of subcontractors by prime contractors."
What work was done by SCOPA to establish that there was a possible role by which influential parties? Do these include members of the Government? Which prime contractors and which subcontractors would have been influenced by these influential parties?
Further still, the Reports asserts:
"The government-to-government agreements, which make references to NIPs commitments, while noble in intent and of some influence in official international communications, have questionable contractual or legal standing."
What is questionable about these agreements? What is meant by "some influence in official international communications"? Is the suggestion being made that the Governments entered into meaningless agreements only for propaganda purposes? If this is so, on what basis is this allegation being made?
The seriousness with which you take your assumption that our Government, the trans-national corporations and foreign Governments are prone to corruption and dishonesty, is illustrated by the steps you have taken to ensure that investigations take place.
As you know, the acquisition process was led by a Ministerial Committee, which was chaired by the then Deputy President. The committee reported to the Cabinet. The Cabinet gave final approval for the acquisition.
This Committee dealt with the prime contracts and not the subcontracts which are a matter between the prime contractors and whoever they subcontract to.
The members of the Cabinet Committee were the then Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, and Ministers Joe Modise, Trevor Manuel, Alec Erwin and Stella Sigcau.
The prime contractors are Blohm + Voss, Thompson CSF, Ferrostaal AG, Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH, Agusta un'Azienda FINMECCANICA S.p.A, British Aerospace, British Aerospace (SAAB) and others, all of which are well-known and prestigious international companies.
The foreign governments involved are those of the UK, Sweden, Germany and Italy.
Your assumption of corruption and dishonesty is therefore specifically directed against these personalities, governments and corporations.
Natural justice demands that you both substantiate the allegation that the persons, governments and corporations we have mentioned are prone to corruption and dishonesty and provide even the most rudimentary or elementary evidence that any or all of these acted in a corrupt and dishonest manner.
I believe that it is a most serious matter indeed for our parliament or any section of it, to level charges of corruption against foreign governments and corporations without producing evidence to back up such allegations.
All of us have a duty to build friendly relations with the peoples of the world. We cannot achieve this by arbitrarily and falsely presenting these in the negative light that some have defined as being their duty with regard to our Government and country.
Least of all can it be the task of our Parliament to act in this manner.
As we have said, it is clear from your Report to parliament that you have a significant amount of written information in your possession and, presumably, other evidence.
This should enable you to present the information and evidence we suggest you present, substantiating the extremely damaging assumptions you state in your Report to parliament.
Obviously, should you have any evidence indicating possible criminal misconduct on the part of any of the individuals and corporations I have mentioned, you should hand it over to the Police Service.
In this regard, I also believe that any information you may have on Members of parliament, including Ministers who are members of the National Assembly, should immediately be brought to the attention of the Speaker.
The rules, I believe, prescribe that any investigation pursuant to this information would not fall within the competence of SCOPA.
You may also wish, as you inform the Speaker, to request her to take steps to ensure that the country is influenced about the alleged misconduct, provided that this is legal. We would have no problem with that to the extent that it relates to members of the Executive.
The next matter I would like to raise concerns the interaction between SCOPA and the Executive on the issue of the defence acquisition.
SCOPA has proceeded to reach conclusions on this matter without having heard the Cabinet. This is despite the request the Ministers made to meet SCOPA.
As you can see from the documents we have enclosed, we are of the firm view that because this meeting did not take place, SCOPA has seriously misdirected itself and thus arrived at decisions that are not substantiated by any facts.
It is difficult to understand how SCOPA could have gone as far as it has, investigating a decision taken by the Cabinet, without asking the people who took the decision any questions that SCOPA might have felt they should ask.
We hope this strange manner of proceeding was not driven by a determination to find the Executive guilty at all costs, based on the assumption we have already mentioned, that the Executive is prone to corruption and dishonesty.
It might be necessary that both the Legislature and the Executive try to draw the necessary conclusions from this experience, to ensure that we do not repeat the obviously wrong things that have happened during the handling by parliament of the defence acquisition issue.
In the meantime, I believe that those who occupy positions of leadership in parliament, including yourself, will have to make the matter clear to parliament as a whole, why it is that at least SCOPA believes that the Executive is prone to corrupt and dishonest practice.
As you are aware and as Minister Maduna indicated in his letter to the President, in her public statement issued on 27 December, 2000, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Hon Frene Ginwala, makes the following comments:
"The Speaker is not aware of any resolution of Parliament or the National Assembly instructing the President to issue any Proclamation regarding the work of the Heath commission. Any such action would be of dubious legal and constitutional validity."
A Committee of the National Assembly has no authority to subcontract its work to any of these (investigative) bodies, or require them to undertake any particular activity, or to report directly to the Committee. Nor are Chairpersons expected to act on major issues without the agreement of the Committee. Such direction as the Assembly may wish to give would require specific referral by a resolution of the National Assembly, and be subject to the procedures provided in relevant legislation."
In his letter to the President, Minister Maduna reports that you informed the investigative units that SCOPA was in contact with a foreign "forensic accounting facility" that could draw up the terms of reference of the investigation you seek.
We must therefore include this unnamed "facility" among the bodies which, according to the Speaker, cannot be subcontracted by SCOPA.
From the statement of the Speaker it is clear that your letter to the President was ultra vires. This is true of any action you might have taken to cause any investigative unit to carry out any investigation.
This has put the Executive and its organs in an embarrassing situation, to the extent that you, and others, have conveyed the false information that the National Assembly had requested that various organs should carry out an investigation.
It is therefore necessary that specific steps be taken to correct this situation, to ensure that all of us, including SCOPA and you, respect the rule of law.
There is an additional matter I would like to raise with regard to your communication dated 21 November, 2000, to the "Joint Investigating Initiative", in which you mention the "international forensic accounting facility".
In this letter you say:
"Against uncertainties created through the media last week, of possible interference in the investigation by government, it was felt appropriate to mention this offer as a possible means through which SCOPA could assure the public of a comprehensive investigation."
According to this statement, because of what the press said, you became so fearful of possible government interference that you felt that you should accept the offer made by some "international facility".
Seemingly, this "facility" made its offer just on time to provide a way out of the "uncertainties created through the media"!
You were quite happy to accept the judgement of the media about the intentions of the Government. This was presumably because, as we have said, you know that the Government is prone to corruption and dishonesty.
Accordingly, according to this view, the Government must be assumed to have acted corruptly with regard to the defence acquisition, and would therefore, naturally, seek to cover up its misdeeds!
Whatever you say about our own investigative units in your letter to then, you also felt that they did not enjoy sufficient credibility with "the public" to be able to reassure this "public" of the integrity and honesty of the investigation, if the foreign "facility" was not involved in the investigation.
On what information do you base this assessment of the Auditor General, the Public Protector and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, all of whom have been confirmed in their positions by parliament?
I am certain that all these matters will need to be explained, including who this "facility" is, with whom they have discussed and when, why they felt that they should set the terms of reference for the inquiry you seek, who felt it appropriate to mention the offer to the investigative units, and so on.
I am not raising these questions so that you should report to the Executive. I mention them because they cause grave concern to the Executive, which is interested to hear straightforward answers.
Parliament will have to deal with these and other questions, as we have to respect the principle contained in our Constitution of the separation of powers.
In your 8 December, 2000 letter to the President, urging the involvement of the "Heath Unit" in the investigation, you say:
"SCOPA's reasons for including a role for the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), as one of the investigating parties, related to the SIU's particular powers and areas of competence and its relevant experience. It was apparent to us that the comprehensive investigation advocated would be weakened by its absence - mainly due to its authority in civil type actions and the role which could be played by its special tribunal arrangement."
I am certain that you are aware of the fact that in his letter to Minister Maduna, dated November 22, 2000, the Public Protector said:
"With regard to the application for a proclamation by the SIU, I am of the opinion that such a proclamation is not necessary at the present junctureâ€¦
"There is no evidence of any unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money and accordingly no need for the SIU to recover any assets or public money;
"The application by the SIU, is based primarily on the Special Review by the Auditor-General and does not raise any new evidenceâ€¦
"I believe that such a proclamation by the President, is not necessary at this stage and that the application be pended for consideration by the President at a later date, if necessary."
I am also certain that you are familiar with the decision of the Constitutional Court, which contained the following view:
"The functions that the head of the SIU (Judge Heath) has to perform are executive functions, that wider our system of government are ordinarily performed by the police, members of the staff of the National Prosecuting Authority or the state attorney."
It is clear that you disagree with the views both of the Public Protector and the Constitutional Court, believing that there are public funds to be recovered and that neither the police, nor the Prosecuting Authority nor the state attorney have the same competence to act as does the SIU.
Accordingly, with regard to the paragraph of your letter to the President quoted above, it would help us enormously if you favoured us with a response to the following questions:
(a) what are the particular powers, areas of competence and relevant experience to which you refer, distinct from the powers, area of competence and relevant experience of our judiciary?
(b) in what way are the competencies mentioned under (a) above especially relevant to the determination of the truth about the defence acquisition, which determination of the truth would be weakened by the absence of the SIU?
We have publicly indicated our desire and willingness to have some of our Ministers meet SCOPA. I trust that, this time, this will actually take place.
Further, to enable us to give the proper and necessary direction to the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the South African Police Service, I request that SCOPA indicates to me the specific matters it wants investigated and why, providing the prima facie evidence which it believes justifies this investigation.
As of now, we do not have this prima facie eyidence and are completely at a loss as to what the loudly proclaimed wrongdoing consists in.
Parliament is, of course, at liberty to interact with the Public Protector and the Auditor-General as it wishes.
Let me reiterate the commitment contained in the attached statements, that the Executive would co-operate fully with any investigation necessitated by information that suggests that corruption might have occurred in the process of the defence acquisition.
Whoever has such information should make it available to any investigate unit of their choice, the Executive, as well as the general public, if they so wish.
The Government will also act vigorously to defend itself and the country against any malicious misinformation campaign intended to discredit the Government and destabilise the country.
I would like to inform you that copies of this letter and the enclosures will be sent to:
(a) the Speaker of the National Assembly;
(b) all members of SCOPA;
(c) the heads of the investigative units, including the SIU;
(d) the Chairpersons of the Defence, Trade and Industry, Finance and Public Enterprises parliamentary portfolio committees, as well as the parliamentary Audit Committee;
(e) the principal contracting companies;
(f) the relevant foreign governments; and
(g) the media.
The President has asked me to assure you that he did, indeed, give urgent attention to your request, as you asked.
Similarly, he and I respectfully request that you give urgent attention to all the matters raised in this letter.
JACOB G. ZUMA
Leader of Government Business.
The Hon Dr Gavin Woods
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts
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