Kasrils testifies at Seriti Inquiry

Ronnie Kasrils said he didn't play any role in the decision making that led to the arms deal.

Ronnie Kasrils at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry on 6 June, 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former deputy defence minister Ronnie Kasrils says he did not play any role in policy decision making which ultimately led to the controversial arms deal.

Kasrils has started testifying at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry which is investigating allegations of fraud, corruption and irregularities in the multi-billion rand deal.

He is shedding light on his role in the decisions to acquire certain military equipment, in particular the Hawks and Gripen fighter jets.

The inquiry was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the procurement of arms from French, British and Swedish countries by former President Thabo Mbeki's administration.

The arms deal cost South Africa billions of rand and many of the so-called benefits of the deal haven't materialised.

Kasrils served as deputy to then defence minister Joe Modise from 1994 until 1999, the year in which Cabinet approved the deal.

He said he supported Modise by engaging in deliberations and discussions on various matters related to the defence portfolio but he never played a role in the decision making.

He said while he occasionally presided over meetings in Modise's absence, he was guided by the minister on how to manage the meeting and would later report back to him.

Kasrils said he shared a good relationship with the late minister but as a deputy minister, he was not privy to all information.

He said he worked closely with Modise to establish a modern, inclusive national defence force and advised on policy formulation.