Manuel loses temper at arms deal inquiry

Manuel criticised anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne during cross-examination.

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: Sapa.

PRETORIA - Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel lost his temper at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry, attacking anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne while under cross-examination.

Manuel wrapped up his two-day testimony at the commission this afternoon after being cross-examined by Crawford-Browne and advocate Anne-marie de Vos for Lawyers for Human Rights.

He began testifying yesterday, arguing that spending was within the Parliament-approved budget and that no separate money was allocated.

Today, most of Crawford-Browne's questions were disallowed by Judge Willie Seriti on the basis that they lacked evidence and had been dismissed during litigation.

But the campaigner ignored some of the instructions from the judge, which led to a stern rebuke.

"I'm warning you for the last time now. If I give a ruling, I expect you to respect it. I said to you that I'm not going to allow that question," Seriti said.

Clearly frustrated, Crawford-Browne hit back saying, "Obviously, I have to skip most of my questions and the abuse of law that I have suffered from Mr Manuel."

After rigorous questioning about his involvement in the deal, Manuel then accused Crawford-Browne of making the issue a personal vendetta.

"He went to the Public Protector to report the Constitutional Court - it was turned down. He then went to the Constitutional Court to report the Public Protector for not taking him seriously. It's exactly the same issue that he re-conjures time after time," he said, raising his voice.

Earlier, under cross-examination by de Vos, Manuel maintained his claim that the multibillion-rand purchases were in compliance with the Constitution and the budget allowance.

However, de Vos argued the process was not financially competitive.

She told Manuel there were rumours he did not support the deal and suspected it was illegal but decided that if it was, no one should ever uncover it.

Manuel denied this, sticking to his claim that the procurement was fair, equitable, transparent and cost-effective.

The commission has been adjourned and the date for the next sitting will be announced in three days.