Arms deal inquiry to resume

The inquiry was postponed to sort out the classification of documents and composition of the commission.

FILE: The Arms Deal Commission of Inquiry, which is chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, is scheduled to resume on 19 August, 2013. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Arms Deal Commission's public hearings will resume today following a two week adjournment.

The commission was postponed in order to sort out the classification of documents and the composition of the commission.

The inquiry into the multibillion-rand deal was set up by President Jacob Zuma in 2011.

It has, however, been hit by a series of setbacks over the past few months and has seen several high level resignations.

Earlier this month, Judge Francis Legodi announced his resignation from the inquiry.

As a result, several people raised concerns about the inquiry becoming paralysed with just two judges presiding over it.

In the first week of August, Judge Seriti, who's heading the inquiry, said he'd received a draft of an urgent court application by the Ministry of Defence in an attempt to prevent the hearings from going ahead to sort out the issue of documents.

However, Judge Seriti assured court action wouldn't be necessary as he agreed the commission was not properly constituted.

"My view, which is supported by my core commissioner, is that we do not think that an adjournment of a period of two weeks is unreasonable."

It's believed that had Seriti not postponed the hearings, there were at least two other applications that had been prepared in an attempt to halt proceedings.

Meanwhile, President Zuma announced on 6 August he would not replace Judge Legodi, and instead announced he reconstituted the commission which now only includes the two remaining judges, Seriti and Thekiso Musi.

Seriti has said the appointment of an extra commissioner is President Zuma's prerogative.

PLAGUED BY PROBLEMS

The commission has faced several setbacks since being established, casting its credibility into the spotlight.

In January, senior investigator Norman Moabi quit after writing 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.