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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 November 2001
JOINT REPORT ON STRATEGIC DEFENCE PACKAGES: CONSIDERATION
Chairperson: Adv J H de Lange
Documents Handed Out:
Joint Investigation Report into the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages
The Committee met to discuss those Chapters allocated to the Committee for consideration by the Speaker; Chapters 13 and 14. The discussion was brief as the Committee did not fully understand what was required of it at that point. This position was to be remedied by a meeting between the seven Parliamentary Committees tasked with considering the Report. Adv de Lange made his intentions clear early on in the meeting. He said it would be pointless for the Committee to go into the findings of the report because the three institutions that had been charged with the investigation had already emerged with their findings. It would not be possible to consider the findings unless the Committee entered into its own investigation. Adv de Lange said that this would not happen. Instead the Justice Committee would be examining the recommendations and ensuring that these get taken seriously. Adv de Lange said that he too would make his own recommendations.
Three institutions had been charged with conducting the investigation; the Public Protector, the Auditor-General's Office and the National Director of Public Prosecutions. The investigation was not complete, and the next phase has already begun. This was the phase when people were being arrested.
Adv de Lange then explained that the Speaker of the House had referred the Report to seven Committees of Parliament, with each Committee being assigned one or more Chapters.
Adv de Lange told the Committee that his original intention was not to call the Committee together until all seven Committees had met, which was later that day, because only after that meeting would the task at hand be more apparent. Adv de Lange's main concern related to procedure, stating that he was unclear whether one report was to come from all seven Committees or if seven reports were expected.
Adv de Lange was adamant that he would not engage in, or entertain, another investigation into the matter. What this left was simply for the Committee to note the findings and recommendations. The emphasis would properly be placed on seeing that the recommendations are taken seriously and that mechanisms are put in place to avoid a reoccurrence.
The Committee was asked to consider Chapter 14 although Adv de Lange was unclear why they were to consider this Chapter specifically, whether there was a clear reason. Directing the Committee's attention to the findings under that Chapter, he recommended that the Committee simply note the findings. Under recommendations he pointed out that nothing there affected the Justice Committee.
Adv de Lange did however have one thing to add. He referred to the Corruption Act, which repealed many of the common law offences, such as bribery. On the matter of corruption, Adv de Lange told the Committee that he had recently read an article written by Kevin Owen, concerning corruption. In this article, Mr Owen asked why more people were not prosecuted for the offence of bribery. Adv de Lange said that this was because the offence was repealed by the Corruption Act. When it was repealed evidence was presented to show that very few people were prosecuted under the offence of bribery. Adv de Lange said that after this however, evidence was brought by Sarkin Hughes who showed that quite a few people were convicted on charges of bribery, including Mr A B Williams.
Adv de Lange submitted that the Department should do something to remedy this very quickly. He said that codes of conduct were presently not good enough.
Ms S M Camerer (NNP) said that she agreed with Adv de Lange's approach on the grounds that there was no evidence on which to challenge anything in the findings. She said that the media and Mr Ngcuka had said that this was the next phase in the process, namely the arrest of people who are suspected. In light of Adv de Lange's statements about the inadequacies of the law, Ms Camerer agreed that something should be done to remedy the inadequacies of the Corruption Act. She referred specifically to Mr Shaik who had been arrested, saying that it might be a possibility that nothing could be 'pinned' on him.
Dr J T Delport (DP) said that he had a problem with Chapter 13 in that it referred to problems with the drafting of the contracts. He said that the drafting of the contracts was not the problem but that the validity of the contracts was. Dr Delport stopped his comment here, saying that Adv de Lange was right when saying that the findings could not be discussed without the Committee going into its own investigation. In illustrating his problem Dr Delport referred to statements made by SCOPA that there were problems with the contracts and that they were not well prepared. In this regard the Committee had no point of reference, no examples before them or anything as such. Dr Delport said that this detracted from the weight of the Chapter and the representations made by SCOPA.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) said that he understood Adv de Lange's concern, but asked what was expected of the Committee. In what degree would other Committees be dealing with the report? Would other Committee be going into as much detail as Adv de Lange preferred not to? Mr Swart reminded that there was also the very real threat of civil litigation, that would only add to the State's cost around the arms procurement deal.
Adv M Masutha's (ANC) view was that if there were a number of smaller technical irregularities with a contract, the contract was not of necessity void or voidable. He said that the investigators had considered such irregularities and had taken them into account. At this point Adv de Lange interjected, asking Adv Masutha to discontinue his course of discussion, reminding the Committee that they would not be going into the substance of the report. It should be remembered that in Chapter 13 all references to contracts pertained to the main contracts and not the subsidiary or secondary contracts. The main contracts were those entered into where the State was directly involved.
The meeting was adjourned.
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