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Seriti Commission’s findings into arms deal described as a ‘whitewash’

The EFF has called on President Jacob Zuma to reject the report entirely.

FILE. A Gripen fighter jet, acquired in the arms deal.

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties have described the Seriti Commission's findings into the arms deal as a whitewash with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) calling on President Jacob Zuma to reject the report entirely.

Yesterday, Zuma outlined the commission's findings after a four-year long investigation, which saw government acquiring billions of rand worth of arms and equipment.

The commission found there was no evidence of wrongdoing and the deal did not prove to be corrupt or fraudulent.

While the African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the commission's findings, opposition parties have lashed out saying the inquiry was a waste of tax payers' money.

The EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says there's no way that the commission didn't find evidence of wrong doing.

"Individuals like Tony Yengeni and Schabir Shaik had been found guilty in relation of course to the arms deal, so this report must be rejected and President Zuma must be advised to go and throw it in the fire pool."

Ndlozi says with the likes of Shaik and Yengeni being found guilty of corruption, the commission cannot find that there was no wrongdoing.

"We must be worried that in general, commissions of inquiries appointed by Zuma always exonerate himself and the executive."

Initial whistleblower Patricia de Lille agrees.

"It was just designed to protect one individual, President Zuma."

De Lille says her faith now lies with the Constitutional Court.

"The court must later in this year give a ruling whether the 750 charges against Zuma must be reinstated," she says.

'FINDINGS TANTAMOUNT TO A COVER-UP'

Others who were part of the commission, including authors Paul Holden and Andrew Feinstein, say the findings are tantamount to a cover-up, which doesn't surprise them.

Holden says the commission failed to deliver on its mandate.

"There was a huge amount of evidence that the commission seems to have failed to analyse. The wording that the president used was quite interesting when it came to consulting that there was no evidence of wrongdoing placed before the commission."

He says, "The commission's job was to investigate not just to sir and receive given information, that would then suggest that the commission didn't actually go out and look for the information that we know exists."

NO RECOMMENDATIONS

The commission did not make any recommendations and the African National Congress (ANC) says it's a closed chapter.

De Lille says the Seriti Commission's findings are designed to prove former President Thabo Mbeki was not justified in firing Zuma as deputy president.

The Cape Town Mayor tabled an arms deal dossier in Parliament as a Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) Member of Parliament in 1999 that led to the successful prosecution of Yengeni and Shaik, as well as charges against Zuma, which were later withdrawn.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says government has maintained over many years that there was no wrongdoing and that the arms deal was above board.

"As far as we understand it, there has been no wrongdoing in terms of allegations of bribery, fraud and corruption. All the commissioners are judges… they've come to that conclusion."

Radebe says Cabinet hopes the findings will bring closure on the issue.

Meanwhile, the ANC has welcomed the commission's findings, saying it hopes the report will bring an end to all claims of wrongdoing.

Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says, "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."

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