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Mbeki did not benefit from the arms deal, says Pahad

by Shaun Benton
on 07 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

At no stage did President Thabo Mbeki or the Presidency benefit in any way from the strategic defence procurement, says Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.

The minister was briefing the media at the Union Buildings on Wednesday on allegations made in a Sunday newspaper suggesting that money from the strategic defence procurement or arms deal may have been channelled to a political party, with the assistance of the President.

He said the Presidency "categorically rejects" these claims, adding that the President is currently seeking legal advice on what course of legal action he or his office may wish to pursue as a result of the allegations.

"I state categorically that President Mbeki in no way benefited from any deal," said Mr Pahad.

He further denied that President Mbeki facilitated in any way the alleged transfer of funds to the African National Congress.

The Minister for Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin, said there was extensive and voluminous documentation from the constitutional structures and from government's own investigative structures, which allowed one to easily check the voracity and accuracy of most of the allegations that have been made.

"[I urge] the media to take careful note of what are facts, and assess this proliferation of further somewhat spurious and at times quite absurd allegations that get spread around."

He slammed the newspaper report and said the standards of journalism in South Africa had reached a low point.

The minister further called the allegations "very very spurious and highly prejudicial" to the President, government as a whole and the Ministers in the Cabinet.

Mr Erwin went on to say that, from government's point of view, there had been no such arrangement in terms of money being channelled into the coffers of the African National Congress by one or any of the companies contracted to deliver military equipment to South Africa.

"No such arrangements were reached in any way whatsoever," he said.

Mr Erwin said absolutely no part of the contracting process, regarding the arms deal, related in any way to the transfer of money to the African National Congress, either formally or informally.

He said government's concern was also that it believed that "very basic homework by the media" had not been undertaken in relation to the allegations, adding that correct information was available in the public domain but indicated that this had not been researched.

"There was no corruption; nobody is going to find any corruption and if anybody has any evidence of corruption or any wrongdoing, we would urge that they take it directly to the relevant law enforcement agency," he said.

Mr Pahad said if anybody has any evidence of corruption by anybody or any institution that they take that matter to the relevant law enforcement agency so that they can be acted on.

"This is an appeal we've made before. We've issued that in a statement too that if anybody has any evidence of any involvement in any corruption, we would urge that they take it quite directly to the relevant law enforcement agency so that it can be properly investigated and if anybody needs to be prosecuted with respect to that, then those things can take place.

"This government will not be party to any corruption and certainly not with respect to the arms deal," said Mr Pahad. - BuaNews


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