Crawford-Browne asks Constitutional Court to set aside Seriti Commission report


Arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne has approached the Constitutional Court to have it set aside the Seriti Commission report into allegations of corruption in the 1998 arms deal.

Crawford-Browne in 2010 went to the Constitutional Court over the arms deal, resulting in President Jacob Zuma setting up the Arms Procurement Commission, headed by Judge Willie Seriti, to investigate allegations of corruption and impropriety. When Zuma released the results of the report earlier this year, he said it had found no evidence of wrongdoing in the deal. The Commission’s report was subsequently labelled a whitewash by critics.

Crawford-Browne in a statement on Tuesday said that “I have last week filed another application (case CCT 161/16) in the public interest requesting the court to set aside the commission’s report‚ and to instruct the minister of finance to recover monies — now estimated at over R70-billion — that were irrationally and fraudulently spent on the arms deal.”
“Despite public commitments to an open and transparent investigation‚ the commission proved a repeat of the 2001 stunt by President Thabo Mbeki to cover up the arms deal scandal‚” he said.
“The huge volume of evidence against British Aerospace (BAE), the German Submarine Consortium (GSC) and German Frigate Consortium (GFC) that was the very cause of the Commission’s creation was left lying, un-investigated, in two shipping containers at the Hawks’ premises in Pretoria. Examination of other evidence was deliberately blocked by Judge Willie Seriti.”

In his affidavit filed at the Court, Crawford-Browne stated that “The fact that the Gripen aircraft are in storage further substantiates my contention that they and other arms deal acquisitions were not bought for any rational defence needs but, instead, for the bribes that would flow from the offsets.
“The fallacy and ‘red herring’ of re-equipping the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] to meet its constitutional obligations was invented to divert attention from those realities. Predictably, the offset ‘benefits’ of R110bn that were the actual rationale for the arms deal did not materialise nor did the jobs.”

The Seriti Commission of Enquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPPs), better known as the arms deal, cost R137 million, well over its original budget.

A statement issued by the Presidency after Zuma had been given the Commission’s final report indicated there was no bribery, corruption or fraud committed during the acquisition process, initially estimated to cost just on R30 billion but ending at around the R70 billion mark.

It also indicated there were no findings pointing to wrongdoing and the Commission made no recommendations as regards any further action by law enforcement agencies.

The airborne arm of the defence force was the largest beneficiary of the arms deal adding 26 Gripen fighters, 24 Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainers, 30 Agusta light utility helicopters and four Super Lynx maritime helicopters to its inventory. The SA Navy re-acquired its blue water capability when four Valour Class frigates and three Type 209 Heroine Class submarines were delivered.