The arms deal procurement commission, or the Seriti commission as it has come to be known by the public and the media, has been a centre of attraction with naysayers pointing out that the commission is a waste of public resources and others being vocal and calling on those implicated to be convicted of fraud and corruption.
Ever since its announcement by the State President in October 24 2011, the commission has taken many twists and turns. It has been in the public domain over allegations of improper working relations and as a result, one member of the commission, Judge Legodi, of the North Gauteng High Court has since resigned.
The commission however has members of high integrity and is chaired by Judge Seriti who is the Judge of the Supreme Court of appeal, assisted by Judge President of the Free State High Court.
The terms of reference as set out by the then Minister of Justice and constitutional development Mr J. Radebe is that the commission will give recommendations relating to the inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularities in the strategic defence procurement packages.
The findings are not limited to the rationale for the Strategic defence procurement packages (SDPP). Whether the arms and equipment acquired are underutilised or not utilised and whether job opportunities anticipated have materialised or not, as well as to find if or whether any person or persons have improperly influenced the awarding of contracts.
Admiral A.N. Howell gave detailed evidence on the background of the SDPP. As indicated by the Admiral he outlined the need to acquire new arms and vessels as the army fleet was old and ailing.
In his account, the purpose of the SDPP was to create new job opportunities and economic spinoffs and the much needed skills. On issues of persons or person who solicited or influenced the awarding of a contract, no evidence was given nor mentioning any individual to that effect.
Subsequent to that evidence given out by the Admiral, the former state president Mr T.Mbeki and Mr T. Lekota, the then minister of defence, gave evidence as per the scope of the SDPP. Mr T. Mbeki reiterated that no evidence pertaining to fraud and corruption allegations were ever brought forward. The interesting evidence which was thought to be a game changer for the commission was by Ms P. De Lille, a dossier presented by her was never supported by her during cross examination, almost all her submission were second hand and not backed by evidence.
In so saying, her evidence corroborated with that of the former state president that no evidence has been forth coming. The commission will resume its work on the 05th August 2014, but it will resume without evidence leaders Advocate Berry Skinner and Carol Sibiya, both submitted a 14 page document regarding the resignations of the latter. However, as expected, the commission is not giving reasons on the resignation of evidence leaders. One can speculate that its hard for evidence leaders to continue to give evidence when no witnesses are forth coming.
No evidence on allegations of fraud and corruption has come forward, but we wait to see if the commission can make recommendations to the presidency regarding fraud allegations.
The evidence as given by Ms P. De Lille, cannot be taken to account as it does not assist the commission. Perhaps what we should anticipate is recommendation on auxiliary issues which are also terms of references of the SDPP.
By : @tumza123/Tumi Mokgatle