Civil groups want arms deal findings set aside over alleged bias

President Zuma announced the Seriti Commission’s findings in April, saying it found no evidence of corruption.

FILE: Grippen Fighters. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - Civil society groups are preparing to lodge a court application next month to have the Seriti Commission of Inquiry's findings into the arms deal set aside.

The Right to Know Campaign (R2K) and Corruption Watch are preparing to legally challenge the probe's findings, saying the arms deal investigations was marred by serious procedural irregularities.

Leanne Govindsamy, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch, says the application is aimed at making sure that the country's worst example of corruption is not whitewashed.

"We would really like for the historical record to reflect that the commission did not conduct itself in procedural manner, it did not meet its mandate or its time of reference."

Govindsamy says the intention is not to have a new commission set up.

"We've seen the previous commission took several years and it involved over R500,000. We don't want a repeat of that."

The two organisations maintain crucial information and documents were withheld from the public, witnesses and participants.

Earlier this year President Jacob 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.

At the time, original whistle-blower in the arms deal saga, Patricia De Lille, said the outcome of that inquiry was " pre-determined and designed to protect President Jacob Zuma".

Opposition parties and critics said that the commission had failed to uncover the truth in the controversial deal.

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

Judge Willie Seriti was appointed by Zuma to probe allegations of corruption in the multi-billion rand arms procurement deal in 1999.

Additional reporting by Gia Nicolaides.