The final days of Seriti Commission public hearings have brought differing concepts. On one hand there have been indications the front-line defence equipment acquired is being utilised as well as is possible while on the other there are allegations of impropriety and untruths.
Richard Young, long an outspoken critic of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP) that saw two arms of the SA National Defence Force acquirement top-line equipment including frigates, submarines, jets and helicopters, gave a 70 page submission to the Commission this week. His written submission follows two turns on the witness stand.
Phrases such as “conflict of interest”, “telling the truth or not”, “never approved” (with regard to a Department of Defence Policy Ministerial Directive), “use of political connectivity”, “substantial allegations of corruption” and others are scattered throughout the submission.
The names of both Chippy and Schabir Shaik feature prominently as does that of former SA Navy admiral John Kamerman, with who Young interacted on the combat suites for the Valour Class frigates, called corvettes during the acquisition stage.
One paragraph sates: “A clear indication there may well have been corruption in the submarine leg of the SDPP, if not outright impropriety, emanates from the projects officer of the submarine programme who in an interview under oath with the Joint Investigation Team in August 2001 stated: ‘Decisions, certain decisions had already been made about firstly, which submarine we were going to get …'”
Young’s submission also points out problems with the scoring of the National and Defence Industrial Participation component of the SDPP as well as financing and military value of the equipment to be acquired.
Former Public Enterprises Minister Stella Sigcau also comes under young microscope. He alleges BAE Systems “paid a good deal of money for her daughter Portia Ndzamela and her two small daughters to live and receive educations in the United Kingdom for a period of some three years”.
Fana Hlongwane, advisor to Joe Modise, who was defence minister at the time of the SDPP, is pointed out by Young as “having had good reason” not to share certain facts with the Seriti Commission. Among these was receipt of covert payments totalling more than four million pounds.
The submissions will continue until next Tuesday with National Treasury, Armscor and the Department of Defence all expected to contribute. After this the Commission will retreat to its offices and start compiling its report which is due to be handed to President Jacob Zuma by year-end.