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Refund our money from the Arms Deal

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Refund our money from the Arms Deal

25th April 2018

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Accountability Now, the NGO known for its corruption busting activities, has written to Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, suggesting that cabinet consider the sale or return of excess armaments bought by SA from European arms dealers would be a good source of funding for delivery of services, in particular in the education sector. A copy of the letter so addressed is attached.

The letter draws attention to the fiscal shortfall currently experienced in SA and places particular emphasis on the regression in basic education expenditure per pupil per year over the last ten years. Accountability Now argues that it is irrational to keep unnecessary and excessively expensive armaments at a time when the need to educate the youth of the country is so pressing. The stark choice facing government is to continue to “throw the youth under the bus” as Stellenbosch University academic Nic Spaull puts it, or to take reasonable measures to address the shortfall in funding.

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The summons issued by the Quaker Peace Centre is referred to in connection with the invalidity of the arms deals and the advantages of cancelling them. Minister Nene has been furnished with a copy of an opinion by Geoff Budlender SC, a former DG of Land Affairs in the Mandela administration, which impugns the validity of the arms deals for want of compliance with procurement criteria laid down in the Constitution.

The validity of the loans underpinning the arms deals is also questioned on the basis of the lack of authority in law of then Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to negotiate them.

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The letter draws attention to the fact that India is in the market for the very type of armaments that SA has acquired and suggests, that “in the spirit of BRICS” an effort be made to sell armaments in excess of the country’s needs to India as a way of generating funds for the state in this time of fiscal distress.

Attention is drawn to the initiative of the President to attract $100 billion of new investment to SA. If executed, the process of the sale or return of excess armaments from the Arms Deal would see a flow of in excess of R70 billion into state coffers, which is a good start towards the $100 billion target. Part of the beauty of this approach is that all bribes, illegal commissions and unauthorised facilitation fees have to be refunded to government by the sellers of the arms acquired.

Cabinet is requested to revisit the Zuma era decision to oppose the claims brought by the QPC, given that former President Jacob Zuma is now facing charges relating to his role in the arms deals. No response has been received to the letter which was delivered on 24 April.

Submitted by Accountability Now 

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