Prep work underway for arms deal commission

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pretoria - Government has assured South Africans that it is intent on ensuring that the Commission of Inquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Package, also known as the arms deal, delivers on its mandate in a transparent manner.

The Department of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday that while it understood the urgency that was attached to this process, it was also important to ensure that proper infrastructure and the support systems were in place, given the projected lifespan of the commission as well as the magnitude of the task that the commission would undertake.

"The need to pay meticulous attention to necessary details cannot be emphasised enough. Preparations for this inquiry require us to enquire into infrastructure aspects in a manner significantly different to how we have dealt with other Commissions of Inquiry."

The commission, led by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Willie Seriti, was set up by President Jacob Zuma in October last year to look into allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package.

The commission is to investigate six areas, including whether any person or persons within and/or outside the government may have improperly influenced the awarding or conclusion of any of the contracts in the arms deal procurement process.

The department said that work for the commission was already being done. The procurement of accommodation, furniture and office equipment as well as the appointment of staff to support the commission was well underway.

"Already, temporary accommodation has been secured, while the process for procuring permanent office accommodation is being concluded."

Regarding the supporting staff for the commission, the department said most have undergone the necessary processes, while those already appointed or seconded will take an oath of office this week and they are expected to assume duty on Monday.

According to the department, the commission will soon issue a comprehensive media statement which will, among other things, provide information on the modes and methods through which information can be transmitted to the Commission.

"The Commission will soon after it has completed its programme, announce a timetable for public hearings that will be conducted throughout the country at a later stage," it said.