'Arms Deal Commission is wasting time'

Terry Crawford-Browne has written a letter to Judge Seriti lambasting the transparency of the commission.

Anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne. Picture: Facebook

JOHANNESBURG - Anti-arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne says the Arms Deal Commission has essentially wasted two years while its programme for its hearings are a further waste.

Crawford-Browne wrote a scathing letter to Judge Willie Seriti, who is heading the Arms Deal Commission's public hearings, questioning the commission's transparency and objecting to parts of the hearing being held behind closed doors.

The commission resumed on Monday after a two week postponement in order to sort out the classification of documents and the commission's composition following the resignation of Judge Francis Legodi earlier this month.

The inquiry into the multibillion Rand deal, which was set up by President Jacob Zuma in 2011, is investigating allegations of corruption.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's John Robbie on Tuesday morning, Crawford-Browne said he presented the four-page letter to Judge Seriti on Monday at the close of the session.

Crawford-Browne said the programme's allocation of 37 days to generals and admirals and 26 days to the Department of Trade and Industry is a waste of time and doesn't actually investigate "how we got into the mess."

He said he smelt a rat when the commission was advertised on Friday as being a closed session, which completely contradicts the assurances given by the Minister of Justice in October 2011 that the hearings would be an open and transparent process.

When Robbie asked Crawford-Browne if his campaign to have the arms deal cancelled and declared fraudulent is still realistic, Crawford-Browne responded, "Yes it is because it's a violation of the Constitution in terms of the government's procurement requirements of the Constitution."

Crawford-Browne said if the arms deal was deemed unconstitutional and fraudulent right from inception, the entire deal can be cancelled.

"The international remedy for fraud is you cancel your contract, return the equipment and recover the money and obviously in recovering the money, you would also recover the bribes because they would be part of the price."

Asked if trying to speed things up was harming his case, Crawford Browne responded "on the contrary".

He said the people who were involved were the five cabinet ministers led by then president Thabo Mbeki, two of which are now deceased including the late Joe Modise, and Stella Sigcau.

"So the people we actually have to investigate are Thabo Mbeki, Alec Erwin and Trevor Manuel. The other people are simply commentators."


Crawford-Browne said there's already a mountain of evidence.

"We don't need to go through five million pages of evidence to know that the thing was rotten."

He said amongst the stuff he has sent to the Constitutional Court are 160 pages of affidavits detailing how and why BAE paid bribes of £115 million, who the bribes were paid to and to which bank accounts.

The Germans have admitted the bribes were paid.

ThyssenKrupp, on behalf of the German Frigate Consortium, paid a plea bargain fine of €46 million.

Crawford-Browne said the tragedy of the issue is the lack of enthusiasm in South Africa to follow these allegations of bribes through.

He said although there is a history of burying political issues through a commission of inquiry, he hopes this time it will be different.

"The inquiry needs to be used as an opportunity of the Constitutional Court and the constitution as a means of investigating politically difficult issues. A commission of inquiry, not just here but internationally, is usually place to park a political hot potato until its cold and can be buried."