'Arms deal inquiry to be transparent'

The Arms Procurement Commission promises to be accessible and transparent.

One of the Saab Gripen fighter jets, bought by the South African Airforce, as part of the country's controversial arms deal. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The commission of inquiry into the controversial arms deal will be open to the media.

Spokesperson for the Arms Procurement Commission William Baloyi told the Midday Report on Tuesday that they will offer accreditation to media houses.

"I think the public hearings are going to be open to the public. It will be up to the different media institutions to decide whether they will broadcast them live or only take snippets for their news. What I can tell you is that we are now busy with the process of making sure that we accredit the media institutions that will be interested."

Baloyi says the commission will also look into the allegations of bribes involving international companies.

"Those allegations have been made. It's in the public sphere. Other people have made submissions around the allegations. We are going to get deeper into that aspect."

He maintains that no information will be classified.

"Nothing is going to be hidden from the public. Not as far as we are concerned."

It has also been revealed that former president Thabo Mbeki, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel and Ronnie Kasrils will be among those testifying as witnesses in the first phase of the inquiry.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma in 2011. He appointed Judge Willie Seriti to head up the commission.

However, it has since been hit by glitches. In January, a senior investigator quit, questioning the integrity of the commission.

Norman Moabi wrote to Judge Seriti alleging that the commission was not transparent and had a "second agenda".

In May, commission secretary Mvuseni Ngubane was found dead in his car in KwaZulu-Natal. Police said it was suicide.

The commission will hold public hearings from 5 August.