The Committee discussed, one by one, the submissions on the Strategic Arms Procurement Package that had been tabled at its 4 February 2009 meeting, with particular attention to those from individuals: Mr Terry Crawford-Browne, Mr Richard Young, Mr Paul Holden, Mr Pierre Steyn, Mr Andrew Feinstein, and the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. The Archbishop's letter was essentially a letter of support for Mr Crawford-Browne, rather than a separate submission. A submission from Advocate Paul Hoffman arrived after the Committee's cut-off date of 4 February 2009 and so could not be included in the Committee's agenda.
The Chairperson exerted himself, gently but firmly, to keep Members focussed on the Committee's immediate aim, which was not to re-open the whole arms deal investigation, but rather to ascertain if there was any new evidence that should be brought to the attention of the competent authorities, in particular, the National Prosecuting Authority.
There was concern that submissions failed to separate financial mismanagement from politics, for example, raising the question of whether South Africa should spend more on its education system than on armaments.
It was agreed that the Committee should officially acknowledge those who had tendered submissions, emphasising that the Committee valued their input.
It was agreed to meet again on 17 February 2009, for a hearing with ARMSCOR, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Public Service and Administration on the SCOPA Joint Investigation Task Team’s (JIT) Resolutions on the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages.
Discussion on the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages
The Chairperson commended the Committee’s researchers on the report that they had tabled to the Committee.
The Chairperson called for ‘very pointed responses’ to the departmental submissions.
The Chairperson ruled that submissions be dealt with one by one, issues isolated, and reasons determined for calling the National Prosecuting Authority to appear before the Committee.
Public Service Commission
The Chairperson said that he was satisfied with the Commission’s response.
Department of Public Service and Administration
The Chairperson said that he was satisfied with the Department’s response.
Mr P Gerber (ANC) said, however, that there might be some problems. Nine years was a long time to wait for a definitive rather than a draft framework. This was unacceptable.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) called for further information on the basis of which the Committee could decide whether to call the Department for a hearing.
The Chairperson added his desire that the Department appear before the Committee.
The Chairperson said that he was satisfied with the National Treasury’s response.
Department of Defence
The Chairperson said that he was satisfied with the Department’s response.
The Chairperson said that there might be matters for discussion.
Mr Gumede said that ARMSCOR’s submission was too short. He called for a hearing.
Mr G Koornhof (ANC) said that ARMSCOR had not responded to recommendations of the Joint Investigating Team (JIT)’s report.
National Prosecuting Authority
The Chairperson said that there might be matters for discussion.
Mr Gumede called for a hearing.
Mr Trent concurred. He said that the Authority had reported in its submission that it had been under-resourced and thereby hindered in its investigation. They had indicated that there were other individuals who should be investigated.
Mr V Smith (ANC) said that he had a slightly different view in terms of process but not of content. The Authority was central to the content of all the submissions. He would be guided by the Chairperson.
Department of Trade and Industry
The Chairperson said that there might be matters for discussion.
Mr Trent disagreed with what the Department had done.
Mr Gumede called for a hearing.
Mr G Koornhof called for some more information on the National Industrial Participation Programme, and for the Department to explain the offsets process.
Mr Trent concurred.
Mr Gumede concurred with the Chairperson’s responses, and proposed that the Committee should hold a hearing.
The Chairperson asked for agreement on ‘the basket’ of submissions.
Mr Gumede said that he could agree to ‘the basket’.
Mr Trent said that he concurred with the Chairperson generally.
Mr G Koornhof said that he supported the Chairperson on the ‘basketing of the entities’, and with Mr Gumede’s observations.
The Chairperson concluded that ARMSCOR, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Prosecuting Authority’s submissions needed further interrogation. He said that a hearing could be held as early as 17 February 2009 with ARMSCOR, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Public Service and Administration, and the National Prosecuting Authority.
Mr Pierre Steyn’s submission on “An Accounting Officer’s Perspective”
Mr D Gumede said that from his reading of the document he saw nothing new. It seemed to him that Mr Steyn was ignorant of ARMSCOR and the Department of Defence’s efforts at compliance.
Mr Smith said that what Mr Gumede had said about Mr Steyn’s submission could apply to other documents. All the documents failed to separate financial mismanagement from politics, for example, raising the question of whether South Africa should spend more on its education system than on armaments. He suspected that if the Committee took each submission individually, Members would frequently repeat the same arguments. Moreover, several submissions addressed the same issue. He said that Mr Gumede’s approach would be helpful.
The Chairperson replied that the submissions had been made by individuals who had not met. Thus there would inevitably be some overlap. Nonetheless, he felt that taking the submissions one by one was preferable.
Mr Trent concurred with Mr Smith.
The Chairperson decided that it would be preferable to take the submissions one by one.
Mr Trent complained that the Chairperson was not allowing him to speak.
The Chairperson said that he did not want Mr Trent to agree or disagree with Mr Smith on the above point. He, the Chairperson, had made a ruling that submissions would be dealt with one by one, in order to maintain a systematic approach.
Mr Smith said that the Committee had agreed that there was no need to call the Department of Defence since it had complied with due process according to the Committee’s recommendations ‘to a large extent’. The only lacuna was in regard to ARMSCOR, which the Committee would call. There was little in Mr Steyn’s submission that required extraordinary work from the Committee, beyond calling upon ARMSCOR. He proposed that the Committee move on to the next submission.
Mr M Shah (DA) said that there was no doubt that the arms deal continued ‘to hang like an albatross around one’s neck’. He asked, alluding to Mr Smith’s reference to matters of process, if the Committee had the authority to examine if matters had been duly considered during the investigation, and if necessary call for another independent investigation, based on the fact that Mr Steyn was not a mere observer, but a significant person (the accounting officer) within the Department at that time when the deal was being negotiated.
The Chairperson said that Mr Smith had correctly placed importance upon processes. This led to matters of motive. The recommendations of the Joint Investigation Team had addressed matters of process. The Committee should ask itself to what extent the Department had corrected these ‘glaring flaws’ that were identified during the investigation.
Mr Koornhof said that Mr Steyn’s submission gave an historical perspective, from the time when he was secretary of defence. He felt that the processes mentioned in Mr Steyn’s submission had been adequately dealt with through the answers given to the Committee by the Department of Defence. He proposed that the Committee conclude its deliberations on Mr Steyn’s submission, but note that it should be referred to in deliberations with the National Prosecuting Authority.
Mr G Madiikiza (UDM) said that he had not received a copy of Mr Steyn’s submission within the package of submissions that he had received. He concurred with Mr Koornhof. He wanted to ask about the role of the Committee if it found discrepancies, but felt that Mr Koornhof had anticipated his question by saying that the matter would be linked to the National Prosecuting Authority.
Mr Trent concurred with Mr Koornhof. The Department had done ‘a substantial job’ in complying with the new regulations, and he thought that this particular issue could be taken off the table. There would be no need to call Mr Steyn to appear before the Committee.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had now completed its deliberations on Mr Steyn’s submission.
Submission by Mr Paul Holden
Mr Trent said that Mr Holden’s main issue was the offsets and their constitutional and ethical implications, for example, a swimming pool in Port Elizabeth. This young man had much useful input to give on the offsets, not on whether offsets were a good idea or otherwise, but on whether there had been bribery. Mr Trent proposed calling Mr Holden to appear before the Committee.
Mr Smith said that the issues of financial mismanagement surrounding the offsets were indisputable. However, the National Prosecuting Authority was currently seized with the matter. It would be better to advise Mr Holden to submit his evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority, rather than presenting it to the Committee for evaluation and decision whether or not to refer it to the National Prosecuting Authority. There would be no benefit from calling Mr Holden to appear before the Committee.
Mr Shah said, based on Mr Holden’s concluding statement, which Mr Shah quoted, that Mr Holden should be called. He agreed that Mr Holden should submit any evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority, but he did not see any conflict if Mr Holden were to be called also to the Committee: it would indeed be in the interests of justice and protecting tax payers’ money if the Committee received as much evidence as possible, in addition to what might be given to the National Prosecuting Authority.
The Chairperson said that most of the issue raised by Mr Holden made much political sense, but might not be what the Committee was currently dealing with. The issue that was relevant to them was the offsets. In relation to the offsets, Mr Holden was addressing the improper implementation of the agreement. Those concerned with taking care of those offsets were ARMSCOR and the Department of Trade and Industry. Therefore, it would be necessary to interact with the Department of Trade and Industry, and if the Department’s evidence conflicted with Mr Holden’s, at the level of implementation of the agreement, then the Committee should take the matter further. On the basis of his submission, there was no reason to call him to appear before the Committee; it was rather appropriate to call the Department of Trade and Industry. The Committee would follow up on offsets with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Mr Trent said that the Chairperson had encapsulated it ‘perfectly’. However, he wished to advise Mr Smith that Mr Holden’s evidence was not necessarily old. Much of it had become apparent long after the investigation.
Mr Gumede observed that it had already been agreed that the Committee would meet with the Department of Trade and Industry and with ARMSCOR. Mr Paul Holden’s information would be clarified there.
Mr Madiikiza said that he could agree that these submissions be sent to the National Prosecuting Authority, because the Committee was an oversight group without investigative powers. Thereafter, the Committee could interact with the National Prosecuting Authority to probe what it had done about these issues.
The Chairperson said that the submissions should be finished one by one. He agreed that if the Committee had adopted an approach of taking them as a group, time might have been saved, but he did not want those who had submitted to think that their submissions had not been given due attention individually.
Submission by Mr Richard Young on “Continuing the Arms Deal Investigation”
Mr B Pule (UCDP) asked if he was correctly informed about the Committee’s approach to the submissions, and explained his impression.
The Chairperson corrected him. The Committee had said that people should make submissions if there was new evidence of corruption.
Mr Shah said that he had learned from Mr Young’s submission that Mr Young was in possession of documents that he had obtained as a result of winning a case. These court documents could be voluminous. He alleged that the findings of the investigators were substantially altered, including the draft that was furnished by the Auditor-General on the 04 October 2001. These material changes had been made, Mr Young alleged, to reach a particular conclusion. He asked if the Committee were not authorised to summon anyone, even against his or her will.
Mr Smith said that Mr Shah was unaware that the Committee had already deliberated on the issues that he was raising. Nor had Mr Trent been present on that occasion. These allegations were not new evidence. The Committee had processed this evidence and taken resolutions on it, after interviewing the Auditor-General and others. Mr Smith was not challenging Mr Shah, but rather his argument. Moreover, the President had responded in the National Assembly to questions about alleged ‘watering-down’ of the report. The Auditor-General had told the Committee that indeed some changes had been made, but these changes had been made in the normal course of auditing. None of Mr Young’s submission was new to at least five or six Members of the Committee.
The Chairperson said that the dichotomy was that Mr Young alleged that there had been material alterations, whereas the Auditor-General had said that these alterations were made in the normal course of auditing. It was important to determine if the alleged alterations were substantial or not.
Mr Koornhof said that when the Joint Investigative Team had submitted its report, the arguments of Mr Young were already on the table. Mr Young had been challenging the view of the Auditor-General and of the Public Protector. If one wanted to be fair, one needed to listen to all sides. Mr Smith was correct to assert that the Committee had really applied its mind to the matter many years previously. He found it difficult to identify new evidence in Mr Young’s submission.
The Chairperson said that it was important firstly to have the evidence rather than calling the former Auditor-General and the former Public Protector. Written evidence, that could be demonstrated, was more valuable than mere oral testimony.
Mr Gumede said that everything was in the Committee’s records. However, one should not lose sight of the fact that Mr Young lost a tender in the arms deal. Mr Young could not be a neutral observer.
Mr Gerber said that the Committee should ascertain the details of the settlement with Mr Young.
Mr Madikiza was in favour of calling Mr Young to appear before the Committee.
Mr Trent wanted to return to the conclusion of the five Members that the changes to the report were not substantial, a conclusion based on the information available at the time. He discussed the matter with the Auditor-General, because, he, Mr Trent, had been alerted. The Auditor-General had told Mr Trent exactly the same. Mr Young was saying in his submission that this was a very serious allegation. His information supported his allegation that there were very substantial changes made. He had obtained this information through a court case, with which Mr Young had been involved for two years. In the end, Mr Young had been given ‘a truck load of documents’, because the court did not have the time to sort out the particular documents that Mr Young wanted. Mr Trent believed that Mr Young could make a valid contribution if he were to be called before the Committee, and if he brought proof.
Mr Smith said that essentially the Committee had already heard what Mr Trent was saying. Mr Trent must learn to speak when recognised. Mr Smith said that the Committee wanted to conclude the matter and not keep it on the agenda for a protracted period, or let it be made a political matter. Those that were guilty must be charged. There was also the expiration of the Parliamentary term, and the lack of time. He proposed that the new Committee be asked to continue with the matter. Examining Mr Young’s evidence could not be completed even in one week. The fact had to be faced that the Committee would not be able to complete the matter and that it would have to be completed by another body. Therefore if Mr Young’s evidence was not new, the present Committee should not examine it.
Mr T Mofokeng (ANC) asked for clarification about the direction of the Committee’s deliberations.
The Chairperson said that he was happy with the momentum achieved by the Committee, but again warned of the risks of losing focus.
Mr H Bekker (IFP) stressed the importance of being realistic. If there was any evidence, such should be brought to the fore. He fully agreed with Mr Smith that the present Committee and the present Parliament could not deal with the matter even if it were possible, by a stroke of luck, to obtain anyone to appear before the Committee the following week. Moreover, evidence would follow evidence. For any practical purpose, one must face the fact that the present Committee would not be able to complete the matter within the available time.
The Chairperson interrupted to say that it was important not to lose track. The issue at hand was how to proceed with the submission of Mr Richard Young, in relation to the Committee’s intended meeting with the National Prosecuting Authority, and other entities concerned, whether that meeting would be conclusive or otherwise. The Committee was not embarking on a generalised re-opening of the arms deal per se. The Committee had decided, if there were anyone with new evidence, the Committee would examine it, and decide what to do with it.
Mr Bekker continued, with regard to Mr Young’s submission, that the way forward would be for the new Committee to decide what it should do in the light of any specific new evidence arising from Mr Young’s submission. There was no way whereby the present Committee could set ground rules for the incoming Committee.
A Member said that there were some Members who were conversant with the existing evidence and who knew what the new evidence would be. He suggested referring such new evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority with the request that the Authority determine whether there was any truth in Mr Young’s allegations.
The Chairperson said that this was an attempted ‘way out’ for the Committee to proceed when it met with the National Prosecuting Authority.
Mr M Shah (DA) said that the argument that the Committee might not have sufficient time to dispose of the matter in its entirety was ‘a flawed argument’.
The Chairperson interrupted to say that he did not want Mr Shah to respond to that argument, since it was not ‘on the table’.
Mr Shah said that the argument had been presented.
The Chairperson responded that he had removed it from the table.
Mr Shah said that Mr Trent had written a letter to Mr Richard Young to which he (Mr Young) had responded. He asked if there were parliamentary rules to the effect that a public representative could not do that. He asked to ‘get that out of the way’.
The Chairperson asked Mr Shah to desist.
Mr Trent interjected, on a point of order, to say that he had written to 21 other people as well.
Mr Shah said that the way forward, quite simply, was to deal with the matter before the Committee. There was a document in which an individual said that he had documents in his possession which shed new light on the entire issue. One had been informed by colleagues across the board that they considered this matter and come to that conclusion. The question for the Chairperson would be to consider that conclusion of a particular SCOPA on the basis of evidence given to it. If those five Members who were currently Members of the present SCOPA could tell the House that they had seen documents that Mr Young had obtained from the Court in 2003, and that their conclusion was reached after they had viewed those documents, then he, Mr Shah, would have no problem in agreeing that the present Committee should seriously consider their conclusions. However, if those five Members did not have sight of those documents and if they came to a conclusion in the absence of those documents, then the present Committee had every right and authority to see those documents and possibly come to a different conclusion.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Shah but said that he wanted to focus on the submission. To escape from ‘this quagmire’, he suggested that when the Committee met with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), one of the issues that the Committee would raise was the action taken by the NPA (if any action was being taken) or to ask what it could do to access the information. When people went public and said that they had information of wrongdoing, but they were not submitting that information to the NPA, one had to ask what the NPA could do about such people. If the NPA said that they could follow up that matter, the Committee could expect that the NPA would prosecute them. If they said that they could not proceed unless the Committee submitted it to them, then the Committee ‘could take it up from there’.
Mr Smith agreed with the Chairperson, but added that perhaps with hindsight the Committee would see wisdom in Mr Bekker’s proposal. He suggested that the Committee ask Mr Young to submit that information to the Committee so that the Committee could consider it. The Committee would have no problem with that and would refer back to its own records. However, it was important to tell Mr Shah that the National Prosecuting Authority was part of the authorship of the document that was allegedly changed. One was now saying to those who wrote it, that there was someone who was accusing them of diluting it, and was asking for an answer. It was not the Auditor-General’s report; it was the National Prosecuting Authority, the Auditor-General and the Public Protector. Mr Smith asked that the Committee ‘not play politics here’ but rather ‘look at this matter practically’. The Committee would say to the National Prosecuting Authority that someone was accusing the National Prosecuting Authority of changing the document, and ask the National Prosecuting Authority for an explanation. This was something that the Committee itself should have done. The Committee should obtain that evidence from Mr Young, and re-examine the process, but it could not be the National Prosecuting Authority that would be the referee and the player in this instance, in terms of whether that document was diluted or not, since it was their document. Thus one could understand the wisdom of Mr Bekker. He called upon Mr Young to provide that document, and for sufficient time to examine that information and see if the Committee in the next two days, addressing Mr Shah, could have sufficient time to come to a conclusion. The Committee had two sessions, on 18 and 19 February, of three hours each, in which, even if the Committee obtained that document that day, such information could not be processed by the Committee in one day. It made sense for the Committee to obtain that information and then hand it over to someone to examine it. The present Committee would not have the time to do so. Mr Smith said that all he was arguing was that one should stop ‘playing politics’ in the Committee’s proceedings.
The Chairperson pleaded with Mr Trent not to speak.
Mr Trent said that it was wrong of Mr Smith to accuse him of ‘playing politics’. Mr Trent’s view was that the Committee was examining Mr Young’s submission and must continue to do so. That was not ‘playing politics’. He had been trying for one year to get the Committee to discuss the subject. He added that he just wanted the truth.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would not ask Mr Young to attend the Committee, but rather submit to the Committee items of evidence that were relevant, whether the ‘watered-down version or the changed version’. It was still necessary to pose the question. Because if there were people who were going around saying that they had evidence, about wrong-doing, but then that evidence was not submitted to the law-enforcement agencies, then one was faced with a problem. It was necessary for the Committee to address that issue. Otherwise one would have challenges of politicising. He responded with the words ‘We don’t operate that way here’ to a hardly audible remark by Mr Shah.
Mr Andrew Feinstein ‘s submission on “Matters Pertaining to the Arms Deal”
Mr Shah said that Mr Woods and Mr Feinstein had been victims of the entire process. He asked about the price that they had paid, whether or not it had been politicking.
The Chairperson asked Mr Shah what he had deduced from Mr Feinstein’s submission.
Mr Trent said that he had read Mr Feinstein’s motivation carefully, and whilst he had said many significant things, he was obliged to concede that most of what he had said was capable of being dealt with by the National Prosecuting Authority. He spoke about the investigations that the Germans had abandoned, about the BAE investigations, and about the Serious Fraud Office; he did not think that there would be any point in calling Mr Feinstein to appear before the Committee. One could merely raise these issues with the National Prosecuting Authority and await its responses. Moreover, Mr Feinstein lived in the United Kingdom.
The Chairperson asked that Members of the Committee direct their attention to the document itself.
Mr Gumede said that Mr Feinstein’s input was concerned with closed and ongoing investigations. On the second page of his document which he called ‘preliminary submission’, he said that there was documentary evidence that the head of procurement in the South African National Defence Force when the contracts were negotiated and signed, had lied to SCOPA about certain of his actions during that process. No action has been taken against the said official. To protect the integrity of Parliament, it was vital that SCOPA address this issue and make representation to the Speaker to take appropriate action. Mr Gumede’s view was that this issue belonged to the Department of Defence, because that person was employed by the Department of Defence, which itself could approach law-enforcement agencies and report it to the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) so that this person could be charged with fraud. But Mr Feinstein should bring the evidence.
The same applied to the second issue. The court papers from the conviction of Schabir Shaik, on charges of fraud and corruption, indicated that a financial arrangement in which one of his implicated companies had with a political party. At the time of the joint investigation, investigators had indicated that they had wished to investigate the role of this political party in corruption related to the deal. This had not happened to date. Mr Gumede thought that for matters that the DSO was dealing with, and for incompetence, if that was what Mr Feinstein was alleging, it was not the mandate of SCOPA to deal with those issues. Mr Feinstein should go the Directorate of Special Operations and discuss this matter with them and find out exactly what stage they had reached. Apparently Mr Feinstein did not approach the DSO. He assumed that the DSO had abandoned this matter. How and whether the DSO had abandoned this matter, he seemed not to be sure. Therefore one would urge Mr Feinstein to go to the National Prosecuting Authority for this matter.
The Chairperson inferred that most of the issues raised at that point referred to ongoing investigations that the National Prosecuting Authority had covered broadly, but the details the Committee would seek to find when it would interact with it. He wanted to rest the matter at that point but note the points raised in the submission.
Mr Shah said that Mr Feinstein had alleged that there was documentary evidence to say that the head of procurement at the time had lied to SCOPA. He asked how to verify that assertion and was the Committee bound to verify that assertion that the head of procurement had lied to predecessor Members of SCOPA. He asked if one were not duty-bound to protect the integrity of Parliament, and to ask perhaps for an explanation from Mr Sheikh.
The Chairperson said that he now saw Mr Shah’s point. He said that if there was any documentary evidence then it would be correct that Mr Feinstein should have furnished that when he made his submission. On the basis of a mere statement, there was not much that one could do with it. When one did not have evidence, one could not ask the individuals concerned to talk to the Committee. If there existed such evidence, not mere allegations, and then let such evidence be submitted to the Committee. The Committee’s intention was not to be calling people but to say that if there was evidence of any wrong doing that had not been examined the Committee would be only too happy to deal with it.
Economists Allied for Arms Reduction and Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town submissions
The Chairperson said that if one examined the covering letter from the Archbishop of Cape Town, one could see that it spoke mainly about offsets. The Committee would deal with offsets in its interactions with the Department of Trade and Industry and ARMSCOR.
Mr Trent said that he had read Mr Crawford-Browne’s submission and his book, and had spoken to him and to many other people. He had given a long overview of the whole process. Mr Trent agreed with Mr Smith and Mr Bekker that it was very complicated and that it was confused with matters of fraud and with political issues. The one point that he did make that was worth noting was that, and it was also made by Advocate Paul Hoffman from whom it had been received too late for the Committee to consider, was that if fraud could be proved in some of these allegations, the Government had every right to cancel those transactions and recover damages from that particular supplier. One was talking of damages of billions of rands of tax payers’ money. Mr Trent had not seen the contracts, but Mr Crawford Browne Feinstein maintained that he had seen the contracts, and he maintained that that was contained in each and every contract. He had made that point in the press many times. It was something that the Committee should note.
A Member felt that the Committee had not completely dealt with Mr Feinstein’s submission. He asked who would call for that documentary evidence – SCOPA or the National Prosecuting Authority. He proposed that this be submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority.
The Chairperson asked if Members agreed and the Members indicated assent.
The Chairperson said that from these lengthy discussions the question of the offsets had become apparent. Secondly, those people alleged to have evidence of wrongdoing. This evidence had been kept with them and not taken to the law-enforcement agencies. The Chairperson said that it was a point that the Committee should discuss with the National Prosecuting Authority at the intended meeting on 17 February 2008. This involved persons in possession of information that should be used in a legal process, who failed to present it for use in the legal process, but used the information politically. Such debates and discussions were commonplace. Members would recall that the National Prosecuting Authority in its submissions said that it could not give the Committee full information lest it prejudice other people. He proposed that if there was information that the Committee required, but which the National Prosecuting Authority could not divulge publicly, there would be no objection to holding a closed meeting, so that the Committee could satisfy itself in terms of its fifteenth report, that the National Prosecuting Authority had fulfilled its responsibilities in investigating transgressions of the law.
So the Committee would have an engagement with the Department of Trade and Industry and ARMSCOR on the National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP). The Committee would also engage with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on the management of the conflict of interest, and thereafter have an engagement with the National Prosecuting Authority on the various investigations that the Authority was conducting in pursuance of the report of the Joint Investigation Team.
Mr Trent asked for clarification as to whether or not the Committee had decided to ask Mr Young to submit evidence of the allegation that he had made regarding substantial changes.
The Chairperson replied that that was his understanding of how the Committee ‘had tied it down’. He appreciated that the Committee was dealing with a ‘matter that was very much current’. He was very happy that the Committee had resisted the temptation to go overboard and that they had kept the central issues in focus. He felt that it had been the Committee’s intention, from the beginning to ensure that no issue be ‘swept under the carpet’. The Committee had been prepared to deal with the matter honestly and openly even though it might have taken long. He thought that they had been able to deal with the points raised in the submissions without disregarding anybody’s submission. None of those individuals who had made submissions must be made to feel that their submissions had been made in vain, to be thrown away without consideration or discussion. This had been achieved. The Committee should therefore be able to take it up from there and hopefully close this chapter.
Mr Trent proposed that the Committee write to each of the individuals who had made submissions to thank them for taking the trouble to submit their views and to explain to them, in those circumstances where the Committee was not going to continue further interaction with them, that the matters that they had raised, would be raised by the Committee with the government departments and entities concerned, so that they felt, as the Chairperson had said, that they had not made their submissions in vain.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee would write to them and thank them for their submissions.
Mr Pule asked for clarification about the letter from the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, in which the Church concluded that poverty was and remained the major security threat to South Africa and that there was no justification for major expenditure on the arms deal. Mr Pule asked the Chairperson not to shake his head.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was considering the existence of any new evidence regarding corruption. If one examined all the submissions, one could see many political statements in all of them. The Committee had considered the two points at the foot of that letter marked by bullet points, since those points concerned the Committee’s mandate. It was not the intention of the Committee to talk about the arms deal in broad terms, since the Committee’s mandate was very specific. Whilst the sentence referred to by the Member might make much sense, in terms of the Committee’s mission, it was not relevant. He told Mr Pule that he wanted to move to the last agenda item and wanted Mr Pule’s input.
Department of Minerals and Energy’s progress report on the export and sale of diamonds
The Chairperson waited at length for Members’ input.
Mr Gerber said that the document that Members had in their possession was the one that they had received the previous week (04 February 2009). This document had not been dated. He asked if there had been any progress since. In terms of the Committee’s resolution, the Committee had asked for certain things to be done and a report to be returned within 60 days of the adoption in the House. There was one paragraph in the report that Members had received. It was on the third page. National Treasury had obtained a legal opinion on the matter in question. However, the investigation task team members consisting of the Department of Minerals and Energy, the National Treasury and the Auditor-General, had not as yet been able to discuss the legal opinions, and their impact on the investigation. The legal opinion had not been made available to the other investigators. A letter had been forwarded to the Director-General of the National Treasury requesting release of the legal opinions to the other investigators in order for the investigation to continue. This was also a long issue. This figure involved was more than R1 billion. He thought that it was problematic if there was no progress on the issue. If the Committee met 17 or 18 February 2009, it would be helpful to have an updated report on the whole matter.
The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Gerber’s observation.
Mr Trent said that a matter on page four of the report should be emphasised. A letter had been forwarded to the managing director of De Beers to request making available relevant documents to the investigating team. It was necessary to know from De Beers’ side that they had done what had been requested of them.
The Chairperson identified two issues. Firstly there was the issue of the legal opinion (noted by Mr Gerber). This had not yet been discussed; the Director-General of the National Treasury had not released the legal opinion to the other members of the task team. The second issue, raised by Mr Trent, was whether De Beers had consented to accede to the request. Then next week the Committee could expect a progress report on those specific aspects.
Adoption of Committee Resolutions
Land Affairs Draft Resolution
Mr P Gerber (ANC) reported that the cluster concerned (Group 1) had been unable to meet, but hoped to be able to table the resolution on 18 February 2009.
The Chairperson accepted this ‘objective situation’ while noting that it would therefore be too late to have the resolution adopted by the National Assembly within the current Parliament.
Draft Resolutions for Home Affairs, Correctional Services and National Prosecuting Authority
Ms N Hlangwana (ANC) said the cluster concerned (Group 2) had adopted three outstanding resolutions with very few amendments.
Mr Trent said that there were some ‘material changes’. Whilst this was not illegal, it was ‘not a good practice’.
The Chairperson accepted Mr Trent’s comment, and said that the Committee would proceed with tabling the three resolutions in the National Assembly.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their participation in what he described as a very long meeting.
It was agreed to meet again on 17 February 2009, for a hearing with ARMSCOR, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Public Service and Administration on the SCOPA Joint Investigation Task Team’s (JIT) Resolutions on the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, in Committee Room E249, Second Floor, National Assembly Wing, at 09:00.
The meeting was adjourned.
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