arms-deal-text3_557aa68b827d9The first phase of the two-man Arms Procurement Commission, or the Seriti Commission, started on 20 January and was meant to wrap up in May with the testimony of  former president Thabo Mbeki, but his appearance was postponed because of his mother’s death. Phase two of the commission started on 21 July.

Under the guidance of Judge Willie Seriti, the commission is investigating “allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the strategic defence procurement package” and will question the rationale for the arms deal, whether the equipment purchased is adequately used or not, and whether job opportunities linked to the arm deal have materialised or not – among other tasks. Allegations have been levelled against suppliers as well as those on the procurement side.

Corruption Watch is following the commission to see if it will get to the bottom of these corruption allegations. We’re also producing new articles that feature analyses of various aspects of the deal, and new developments. Our current arms deal articles are all gathered on this page, with the newest ones first.

Closing arguments: arms dealers

In this three-part series, we summarise closing arguments from the evidence leaders, the government departments involved, and the arms dealers.
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Closing arguments: government departments

In this three-part series, we summarise closing arguments from the evidence leaders, the government departments involved, and the arms dealers.
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Closing arguments: evidence leaders

In this three-part series, we summarise closing arguments from the evidence leaders, the government departments involved, and the arms dealers.
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Young: fake prices, conflict of interest, and more

Arms deal whistleblower Richard Young, testifying this week before the Arms Procurement Commission, has said that he knew that there was something wrong, before any contracts were awarded. Young was one of the losing bidders for defence software, and for years has been on a mission to find the truth about the arms deal.
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Young confident of arms commission impact

For years Richard Young has worked to expose the corruption that he believes lies at the heart of South Africa’s multi-billion-rand arms deal. Tomorrow he takes the stand at the Arms Procurement Commission, which is tasked with probing allegations of fraud and corruption in the deal.
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Arms deal’s Hlongwane to testify today

Fana Hlongwane – the arms deal playboy known by the nickname of “Styles” – is set to take the stand at the Arms Procurement Commission to answer to allegations of backhanders and corruption. The one-time advisor to former defence minister Joe Modise is accused by arms critics of having made hundreds of millions from the arms deal for “consultancy services”.
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Chippy Shaik’s testimony full of denials

Chippy Shaik’s testimony at the Arms Procurement Commission last week produced no revelations. He denied that he was guilty of soliciting bribes, manipulating tender decisions or ensuring that his brother Schabir benefited improperly from the multi-billion-rand acquisition of defence equipment.
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Chippy Shaik to testify at Seriti Commission

Chippy Shaik will testify at the Arms Procurement Commission today, becoming the first person “directly implicated” in the corruption and subversion of the deal to testify.
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Arms deal critics are not the ones on trial

When the three arms deal critics were initially subpoenaed for the Seriti Commission a few years ago, they had been promised that they would have access to all the documents they needed – this has not transpired and, says Hennie van Vuuren, he’s done the right thing in refusing to take further part.
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Whistle-blowers in the hot seat at inquiry

Those who have sought to help the Seriti Commission by bringing evidence of wrongdoing to its attention, have been treated as if they are the subject of the probe, while those who should be answering questions are not required to do so, write Anine Kriegler and Murray Hunter.
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Van Vuuren defiant at Seriti Commission

Hennie van Vuuren, the arms deal critic who withdrew from the Arms Procurement Commission in August, appeared before it on Monday, 20 October, as instructed – but he then informed the commission that he would not take the oath, nor would he testify.
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Arms deal commission must bring accountability

Around 40 local and international organisations – Corruption Watch among them – are calling for the Arms Procurement Commission to be scrapped as concerns over its credibility ratchet up.
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Civil society asks for dissolution of arms commission

More than 30 local social justice organisations, including Corruption Watch, have issued a joint call for real arms deal accountability.
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Seriti Commission not fair or consistent

The withdrawal of Lawyers for Human Rights and their clients from the Seriti Commission would “further erode any credibility the commission might have had left”, says Constitutional expert Professor Pierre de Vos.
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Arms deal critics drop commission

Our heroes this week are Lawyers for Human Rights and their clients – arms deal critics Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren – who have withdrawn from the Seriti Commission in protest against “the manner in which the commission has conducted itself.”
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LHR and clients pull out of Seriti Commission

Lawyers For Human Rights and their clients – Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren – have announced their withdrawal from the Arms Deal Commission, Read their media statement.
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Staff turnover at the Seriti Commission

Since the Seriti Commission was established in 2011, it has seen numerous staff members coming and going – some even before proceedings got under way. Last month two more senior members of the team resigned – but what effect will this have on the commission’s work?
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TI: national security, transparency can co-exist

A new report released by Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme probes the issue of freedom of information and its implications in considerations of national security. South Africa is one of 15 countries assessed by the team, and results show that it is not the only country walking the fine line between national security and the right to know.
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Arms deal lessons are of more value than cancellations

Author, academic and arms deal critic Raenette Taljaard is as passionate as the next person about uncovering the truth behind the multi-billion purchases – but rather than demanding cancellations and criminal charges, she hopes that valuable lessons will be learned, which will be applied to future defence procurements.
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Seriti Commission must be fair to both sides

Dear Corruption Watch, I have been following the Seriti Commission hearings into the arms deal and have a couple of questions: if there is general dissatisfaction with the procedures, are the process or outcomes subject to judicial review? How will the findings Judge Seriti makes be enforced? And is a commission subject to the same considerations of fairness as a court?
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Arms deal: seven facts that aren’t going away

A recurring line from those trying to dismiss allegations of corruption in the arms deal is: “Show us the evidence.” This article from Right2Know presents seven pieces of evidence that have already been proven through investigations or accepted in a court of law.
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Op-ed: how the Seriti Commission is failing

This opinion piece by Right2Know journalist and researcher Kholiswa Tyiki takes a critical look at the Seriti Commission’s seeming reluctance to make crucial documents available to cross-examiners, and calls for more public participation and pressure for the full truth to be revealed.
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Original arms deal whistleblower testifies

Almost 15 years after she blew the whistle on the arms deal, Patricia de Lille testified yesterday at the Seriti Commission. She spoke to Corruption Watch about her relief that the day had finally come, and at the same time expressed fears that the damage done is irreversible.
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Mbeki: arms deal was above board

Former president Thabo Mbeki defended the arms deal during his testimony before the Seriti Commission last week, saying that several investigations had probed the deal and had never concluded any irregularity existed.
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Arms deal commission, phase one – a summary

The first phase of the arms deal commission is over, and phase two got under way on 21 July. Opinions vary as to the usefulness of phase one’s revelations, with some critics saying that nothing new was learned, and others saying that some key facts did emerge.
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All kinds of corruption in the arms deal

South Africa’s controversial R71-million arms deal, finalised in 1999, was characterised by various forms of corruption, including bribes, dodgy and secret share transactions, gift-giving and post-employment.
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Big names to testify at arms deal commission

Ronnie Kasrils,Trevor Manuel and Thabo Mbeki are among the high-profile witnesses scheduled to testify before the arms procurement commission in the next few weeks. Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota is also among those called to appear.
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Former ministers’ testimony may shed light

Former ministers Trevor Manuel, Mosiuoa Lekota and Ronnie Kasrils, who at one time either approved, defended or championed the controversial arms deal, have been ordered to appear before the Arms Procurement Commission.
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Arms commission holds great significance for country

The high-profile, media-inundated murder trial of Oscar Pistorius and the lower-key Seriti Commission are taking place almost next door to each other in Pretoria – but it is the latter proceedings that will hold more ramifications for South Africans.
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Will the Seriti Commission run out of time?

Since the Seriti Commission started its public hearings in August 2013, it has adjourned no less than 18 times, prompting fears that it will not complete its work before the mandate runs out in November.
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The real cost of the arms deal

South Africa has paid for much more than the costs stated up front in the arms deal. There were the billions spent on finance charges, the exorbitant cost of maintaining all the equipment bought, and the cost of lost opportunities.
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Access to classified documents hampers commission

The Seriti Commission has been plagued by issues ranging from staff resignations to burst water pipes – and the problem of sufficient access to classified documents.
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Belief in offsets was naive

The arms deal offsets were supposed to bring as much as R110-billion worth of investment into South Africa’s economy and create 65 000 jobs – but they didn’t, and the companies which failed to make the benefits happen have not been penalised.
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Arms deal offsets – were they worth it?

The arms deal offsets are one part of the ongoing debate around the government’s multi-billion defence expenditure. Our article explains what offsets are, how they are supposed to work, and how they applied to the arms deal.
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A killer in more ways than one

The global arms trade is described as one of three most corrupt industries in the world – and South Africans have had first-hand experience of its toxic effects on the country’s economy.
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A closer look at the Seriti Commission

In the first of a series of that explains the internal and external regulations, procedures and pieces of legislation that govern the operation of the Seriti Commission, we talk about its mandate and terms of reference – these lay out the aims and scope of the commission.
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Why we must care about the Seriti Commission

The Arms Procurement Commission is not a farce and should be supported – so say authors Andrew Feinstein and Hennie van Vuuren. If it contributes anything towards revealing the truth, it will be of value, they maintain.
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Feinstein, Van Vuuren to brief media on commission experience

Authors Andrew Feinstein and Hennie van Vuuren, represented by Lawyers for Human Right, will brief the media on 27 February on their experiences at the Arms Procurement Commission, including challenges related to accessing crucial documents and cross-examination of key witnesses.
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Not perfect, but commission can still produce results

There are some who feel that the Seriti Commission, currently probing allegation of corruption in the arms deal, is a lame duck – but others feel that it is the only way to the truth, and may yet produce results if citizens and civil society become more involved.
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Fighting the good fight

Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne and whistleblower Richard Young have spent years of their lives and millions of rands in their individual quests to get to the bottom of the notorious arms deal.
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The arms deal – South Africa’s corruption trailblazer

The arms deal saga has been going on for 15 years and still no clarity has been reached on the matter, nor have those involved been held accountable. But South Africans hope that the Seriti Commission of inquiry into the procurement scandal will get to the bottom of the deal that paved the way for corruption to infiltrate the government.
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