The Seriti Commission, already under fire from anti-arms deal campaigners, is getting rid of personnel.
Commission spokesman William Baloyi said “about six employees” of Judge Willie Seriti’s Commission of Inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) would leave by either the end of this month or December.
“All personnel are on contract and there are two main reasons for the reduction in staff complement.
“Firstly, the bulk of the work has been to work through the massive amount of documentation received from various State departments involved in the SDPPs. This entailed inter-alia extracting relevant information from the documents, making summaries thereof and compiling reports. This part of the work has been completed. The work of the Commission has now shifted to the public hearings and only a few legal professionals are required to assist the evidence leaders in this process.
“Secondly, there is a need to save costs in view of the budgetary constraints the Commission has to contend with.”
The Commission was granted a budget of R42 million.
Baloyi dismissed allegations that people were being “dismissed” from the commission because they do not subscribe to the so-called “second agenda” the Commission and its chairman are apparently pursuing. This was brought to light when lawyer Norman Moabi resigned in January, citing the alleged “second agenda” to protect certain people, as his reason for leaving.
Subsequent to this co-commissioner Judge Francis Legodi also resigned. The resignation was accepted by President Jacob Zuma who indicated he did not feel it necessary for the Commission to have three commissioners to be able to continue its work.
Earlier this month Zuma extended the lifespan of the commission by a year. It is now due to finish its work by November 30, 2014, and submit a final report to him “no less than six months later” a statement issued by the Presidency on November 1 said.
The Commission, currently busy with the first round of public hearings into the acquisition of frigates, submarines, jet fighters, lead-in fighter trainers, light utility and specialist maritime helicopters, was originally scheduled to finish its work by the end of this month.