South Africa sets deadline for arms scandal probe
Cape Town – South African President Jacob Zuma has set a deadline for a probe into an arms purchase scandal that has plagued the country’s politics for years.
The Arms Procurement Commission, which carries out the probe, “shall now complete its work by no later than 30 Nov 2014 and shall submit its final report to the President within a period of six months after the date on which the commission has completed its investigation,” Xinhua quoted Zuma as saying.
“President Zuma has, in terms of section one of the Commissions Act, amended with effect from 04 November 2013, the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package, otherwise known as the Arms Procurement Commission,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.
Set up by Zuma in 2011, the commission is investigating the multi-billion rand arms deal in the late 1990s to buy military equipment from Europe when Thabo Mbeki was deputy president.
It is estimated that up to $101 million was allegedly paid in bribes.
The probe has hit snags several times. In early August, judge Francis Legodi resigned from the commission due to personal reasons, leaving only two members in the commission — Justice Willie Seriti, the chairperson and Justice Thekiso Musi, a member.
Zuma said at that time he would not replace Legodi and believed that the commission’s integrity would not be affected.