'Legodi resignation a serious setback'

The arms deal commission of inquiry has suffered a series of setbacks.

The arms deal commission of inquiry has been plagued by a series of setbacks since it was established by President Jacob Zuma in 2011. Picture:Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Both the Presidency and the Justice Department have declined to comment on Judge Francis Legodi's resignation from the arms deal commission of inquiry.

On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma announced he was considering extending the commission's term.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says Legodi's resignation is the latest in a series of serious setbacks for the commission.

The party's Mmusi Maimane says the setbacks are interfering with the commission's ability to adequately do its job.

"The commission has suffered multiple changes which in fact hampers its ability to investigate properly. We believe, as the hearings are set to begin, that we need to find the right people and ensure we can restore public trust in the commission."

The commission into the multi-billion rand arms deal was set up by President Jacob Zuma in 2011.

Judge Willie Seriti is heading up the inquiry.

The DA says it's imperative that Judge Seriti acts to restore public trust in the commission.

Public hearings will start in Pretoria on 5 August and are set to run until 31 January 2014.

PLAGUED BY PROBLEMS

The commission has been hit by a series of setbacks.

In January, senior investigator Norman Moabi quit.

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 a suicide note was found next to his body.

Zuma has given the commission two years to complete its work and a further six months to hand in its report to him.

The arms deal was completed in 1999 and cost South Africa up to R38 billion at the time.

It involved companies from Sweden, Britain, France, Germany and Italy and it is estimated that up to R1.1 billion in bribes was paid.

Top ranking navy and air force officials will be among the first witnesses to testify when the commission gets underway.

Former President Thabo Mbeki and members of his cabinet, including Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, are among those who will be called to give evidence.