Still no word from North Gauteng High Court on Seriti Commission dismissal application


Non-government organisations Right2Know (R2K) and Corruption Watch have not yet heard from the North Gauteng High Court whether a joint application to have the findings of the Arms Procurement Commission set aside has been successful.

The application was submitted to the Pretoria court in October, a month before another similar application was dismissed by the Constitutional Court. That application was made by long-time anti-arms deal campaigner, Terry Crawford-Browne.

R2K Gauteng spokesman Dale McKinley said today his organisation had not had “any word” from the Court on the application.

As with Crawford-Browne’s application, the R2K/Corruption Watch one wants the court to review and set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission. The commission, headed by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in the wake of sustained perseverance and opposition to the 1999 multi-billion Rand arms deal that saw the SA Air Force and SA Navy acquire new frontline equipment.

In support of the application R2K and Corruption Watch said Judge Seriti’s findings should be set aside because, among others, “there was no rational basis or justification for embarking on the arms deal” and that “the procurement process followed was tainted by serious irregularities”.
“Challenging the arms deal cover-up is particularly relevant given the struggle against state capture, in an environment in which investigations of irregular procurement and large-scale contracts are increasingly hampered and suppressed. Those who are implicated continue to act with impunity and in most cases remain in their positions without consequences.
“The Commission,” the joint statement said, “was tasked with investigating allegations of corruption in the 1999 arms deal, which cost the country billions of rand in exchange for weapons through processes that lacked transparency. However, after over four years, characterised by a flawed process, the Commission’s final report claimed it had found no evidence of any corruption in the deal.
“The founding papers show this finding is the result of an abject failure on the part of the Commission to undertake a proper investigation. The Commission refused to consider thousands of pages of evidence from previous investigations and failed to gather or admit highly incriminating evidence despite having the power to do so.
“Taken together, this behaviour shows the Commission grossly failed in its mandate to fully investigate and uncover the truth about the arms deal. This deal has deeply corrupted the politics of South Africa and sits at the heart of the country’s fight against corruption and state capture.
“The Commission’s failure to provide the public with the truth undermines the country’s attempts to fight these struggles.”

The decision by the NGOs to approach the court was “because for far too long the corrupt (in South Africa) have escaped accountability”.