Trent slams Parliament again

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Eddie Trent, the official opposition Democratic Alliance party’s ranking member on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), has again slammed Parliament for its handling of allegations of wrongdoing surrounding the 1999 R47.4 billion Strategic Defence Package.
Trent, who is retiring within weeks, says “Parliament has consistently ignored compelling documentary evidence which proves that the Joint Investigating Team`s (JIT) report into the Arms Deal was doctored by high-ranking government officials”.
The JIT report was compiled by the National Prosecuting Authority`s Directorate of Special Operations (known as the “Scorpions”), the Public Protector and the Auditor General and when published in November 2001 was meant – by government – to be the last word on the allegations.
However, it soon emerged that the report had been drastically shortened and that there was substantial variance between the wording of the final drafts and the published report, despite statements by the then-Auditor General and Public Protector that the changes were cosmetic and only to improve readability.  
Trent this weekend said Parliament “has also failed to address the fact that both the former Auditor General and former Public Protector appear to have misled (Scopa) when they claimed that no interference took place.
“Since lying to Parliament is a criminal offence – Tony Yengeni was sent to prison for it – it is essential that this matter be deliberated in Parliament,” Trent said in a statement received by defenceWeb.
“Regrettably though, Scopa again derailed efforts to have these matters tabled last week – and this was the gist of my statement to Parliament on Thursday, where I called for a proper reopening of investigations.”
In the statement Trent also took issue with fellow MP Joan Fubbs, who spoke after him in the National Assembly. According to Trent, Fubbs, who represents the ruling African National Congress, failed to debate the merits of the issue. “Instead, she attacked the personal integrity of a member of the public who managed to obtain documented proof of the JIT report`s whitewash,” a reference to defence IT company C2I2 CEO Richard Young, who had obtained drafts of the JIT report after a protracted court battle.   
Trent, who did not name Young, then said Fubbs “made extraordinary and inaccurate claims about this individual – that, for instance, he had been invited to appear before SCOPA, and had refused to make written representations to the committee.
“Both of these statements are utterly at odds with the truth,” the MP insisted. 
“Though we have no reason to doubt the credibility, intentions or interests of the individual involved in obtaining these documents, this is all clearly irrelevant in any case – what counts is whether the evidence is accurate, and what it demonstrates.
“Ms Fubbs also says that the ANC ‘never sought to submerge the truth`, but if this were the case she must explain why her colleagues continue to prevent this matter from being discussed in Parliament, more than four years after these documents were first brought to public attention,” Trent said.
Scopa last Tuesday decided to postpone further hearings on the SDP until after the 22 April election, saying there was insufficient time to do so in the current Parliament`s remaining life.