Arms deal: Former minister to testify

Alec Erwin will have to account for dozens of arms deal off-sets which never materialised.

Former Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's former Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin, who oversaw the controversial arms deal agreement, will take the stand today at the commission set up to investigate alleged corruption during the process.

Erwin will be the first politician to give testimony to Judge Willie Seriti, who has already heard months of evidence from the military, government officials and Armscor.

Erwin's appearance is expected to be dominated by discussions about so-called off-sets, which are economic benefits promised to the country on condition that it bought arms from certain companies.

He will today have to account to the commission about dozens of arms deal off-sets which never materialised.

The City Press newspaper has reported that only 6,7 percent of more than 56,000 jobs promised as a benefit for signing the deal were created.

Erwin is expected to reveal the details of lucrative deals that were entered into with British and French companies.

Erwin stepped down as Trade and Industry Minister in 2008.

For a comprehensive feature on understanding the arms deal, click here.