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Zuma: No evidence of bribery or corruption in arms deal

The president received the Seriti Commission report in January after a four year-long investigation.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has released the findings of the arms deal report, stating that there was no evidence of bribery or corruption in the procurement process.

Zuma this morning addressed the nation and outlined the main findings of the report as follows:

  • it was necessary for government to acquire the equipment to carry out its constitutional mandate;

  • all equipment procured has been well utilised;

  • the job opportunities projected to flow out of the package were achieved;

  • the anticipated offsets promised have substantially materialised;

  • there was no undue or improper influence in the selection of the preferred bidders which entered into contracts with the government;

  • the widespread allegations of bribery, corruption and fraud have no support or corroboration in the evidence;

  • and there is no evidence that money paid to any consultants was paid to any officials involved in the procurement process.

Zuma received the Arms Deal Commission report in January after a four year-long investigation.

The inquiry investigated allegations of fraud and corruption which marred the R70 billion arms procurement deal.

The 1999 deal saw government acquiring, among other items, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft, 24 Hawk trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force and submarines for the SA Navy.

Then -President Thabo Mbeki sacked Zuma as his deputy in 2005 after he was implicated in the deal. Zuma, who became president in 2009, appointed a commission to investigate the deal in 2011.

Known as the Seriti Commission, it began its work in 2013, hearing testimony from over 50 witnesses.

The commission has maintained that it was not a forensic inquiry but merely a 'fact-finding mission'.

ANC WELCOMES SERITI COMMISSION'S FINDINGS

The African National Congress (ANC) has meanwhile welcomed the release of the findings into the multi-billion rand arms deal, and says it hopes the Seriti Commission's report will bring an end to all claims of wrongdoing.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says the report reaffirms the party's confidence in the credibility of the process.

"We welcome the release of the report and findings. It brings an end to almost two decades of investigation. We hope that even those that were given an opportunity, will accept the findings and close the chapter."

At the same time, author of Arms Deal in Your Pocket, Paul Holden, says he's dismayed by the findings.

Holden says the commission states there was no evidence "placed before it" that proved such allegations.

He says this shows the process was tainted.

"The commission's job is to investigate and not just to sit and receive information; that would seem to suggest that the commission didn't actually effectively go out and look for the information that we know exists in the investigations abroad."

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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