Arms Deal was initiated with criminal intent

The controversial 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal was “initiated with criminal intent”, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

“I submit that the rationale for the arms acquisition was illegal, unconstitutional, and fraudulent right from the inception,” arms deal critic Terry Crawford-Browne testified at the inquiry in Pretoria.

“Contrary to assertions by admirals, generals, and officials in the earlier round of hearings, the real rationale for the arms deal was not the need in the post-apartheid era to replace obsolete warships and warplanes.”

He said the arms deal’s economic benefits never materialised.

“Predictably, the offsets did not materialise, as the department of trade and industry now concedes. The whole process was fraudulent.”

He said the spin-offs listed in Parliament in March 1999 by former defence minister Joe Modise were pie in the sky.

“I challenge members of the commission to name any business anywhere in the world that gives back R110 in change for a R30 purchase,” Crawford-Browne wrote in his sworn statement to the inquiry.

“Even the most economically illiterate person knows better than to swallow such nonsense. Multiply that by a billion and the extent of the arms deal fraud perpetrated against the people of South Africa becomes apparent.”

Crawford-Browne said Modise told Parliament the South African economy would benefit around R110 billion in new investments, industrial participation, and the creation of approximately 65,000 jobs.

He said an affordability study of the feasibility of the transactions warned Cabinet in 1999 that the arms deal was “a reckless proposition”.

“It also warned Cabinet of the economic consequences including job losses, that the foreign exchange risks were high, and that the so-called offset benefits could not be guaranteed,” Crawford-Browne said.

Source : Sapa /jm/jk/th/lp

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