On December 30, 2015 President Jacob Zuma received the Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, the so-called ‘Seriti Arms Commission’.
The following day, December 31, the DA ‘Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier, issued a statement in which, among others, he said of the Commission Report, “expectations are that, at least when it comes to the crucial question of whether the arms deal was tainted by fraud and corruption, the final report will be a whitewash and that those who were alleged to have been involved in arms deal corruption, including President Jacob Zuma himself, have nothing to fear.”
Naturally Government responded to Maynier and said, “The party (DA) has cast aspersions on the integrity of two senior judges who have worked meticulously for four years to uncover what exactly happened around the arms procurement process. The report has also not been released to the public yet. The DA is thus attacking a report they have not even seen.”
President Zuma’s Proclamation establishing the Seriti Commission was published in the Government Gazette on February 8, 2012.
Consistent with the Commissions Act, 1947, under which the Commission was established, the Proclamation includes the provision that “No person shall insult, disparage or belittle the Chairperson or any member of the Commission or prejudice the inquiry or proceedings or findings of the Commission.”
The facts therefore are that not only did Maynier cast aspersions about a report he had not seen but he also clearly committed the offenses of belittling the Commissioners and prejudicing the findings of the Commission.
Why Maynier did find it necessary to act with indecent haste to encourage the country to take a negative view of the still non-public findings of the Seriti Arms Commission?
When he wrote about ‘expectations’, whose ‘expectations’ was he talking about?
Advocate Marumo Moerane, SC, was the lead counsel for the Inter Ministerial Committee which oversaw the Defence Procurement.
In his final submission to the Commission he said of those who had identified themselves for more than a decade as “critics and whistle blowers” of the Defence Procurement that they had:
- “inundated this Commission with a mountain of paper, books and other documents;
- “tendered evidence that was based on allegations, suspicions, theories, probabilities of impropriety and corruption;
- “propagated theories and hypotheses, but have given very little by way of facts; and,
- “asked this Commission to draw inferences from their theories and hypotheses.”
Adv Moerane went on to say, “In the nature of a Commission of Inquiry, which is a fact finding exercise, facts, not conjecture, is what is required.”
What Adv Moerane said described exactly what Maynier had done when he appeared before the Seriti Commission as yet another of the “critics and whistle blowers” of the Defence Procurement.
In his own written submission canvassed before the Commission on 11-12 August 2014, Maynier said: “It will be apparent, I do not have personal knowledge regarding many of the topics which appear on the list and that I will in the main, rely on the listed documents to substantiate my views.”
When an Adv Cilliers cross examined him on the documents he mentioned, which he had submitted to the Commission, Maynier said:
“Advocate, if your position is do I have personal knowledge of the matters contained in the documents, the answer to that question is, must be, no, and it is for that reason that I have handed the documents to the Commission.”
Cross examined further, Maynier said:
“I obviously am not able to determine whether the allegations in those documents are correct or not and for that reason I handed them to the authorities in this case, the Hawks. Again in respect of the Commission the same documents; I do not have personal knowledge of those documents. I am not able to attest to whether those allegations are true or not…”
At some point Adv Cilliers said, “It appears to be then that your contribution is only to hand over whatever documents and or other information you had to the Commission. You personally did not make any contribution from any knowledge that you had?”
Maynier then responded: “Advocate that is correct. Information was brought to my attention…I obviously do not have personal knowledge.”
At various points as Maynier gave his ‘evidence’ to the Commission, Chairperson Judge Seriti asked him to assist the Commission with facts. For instance the Judge said:
“At the right time [when] we are going to deal with submissions, we will be in a position to ask people to make submissions at that stage. But then we seem to be conflating the two processes. I do not think it is the time now for submissions. It is time to lead evidence. If Mr Maynier knows about corruption, let him tell us about corruption and give us evidence about that. I thought this was the state where we are…
“It appears to me that…Mr Maynier has got no personal knowledge of the issue that he wants to effect. He has no personal knowledge about that. Secondly all these issues that he raised here we are aware of. These are issues that we have been working on. We are fully aware of this. There is nothing new that he raises here.”
As the Commission was about to adjourn on August 11, 2014, Adv Cilliers said: “[Mr Maynier] had difficulties with the investigation for years. Now he has the platform to provide [the facts]. We have spent now a full day with him in the witness box, and I have not heard one single fact that is worth mentioning in your report, because it is not relevant at all.”
As indicated earlier, Commission Chairperson Judge Seriti had advised Maynier that he would later have an opportunity to make a submission to the Commission to convey his opinions about any of the matters canvassed before the Commission.
However when the time came, Maynier did not return to the Commission to make his final submission.
The reality therefore is that Maynier:
- did not present any facts to the Commission concerning the fraud and corruption in the Defence Procurement which had been alleged at least since 2000, including by the DA;
- confessed that he had no personal knowledge of any of the matters mentioned in the documents he submitted to the Commission as his ‘evidence’; and,
- admitted that he could not say whether any of the matters mentioned in the documents he submitted and on which he relied were correct or were mere fabrications.
In the fourteen (14) years between 2000 and 2014 Maynier and his party, the DA, had not found one single fact that they could submit to the Commission showing that there had been fraud and/or corruption in the process of the Defence Procurement.
Despite this, they never got tired of loudly asserting that there had been such fraud and corruption in the Defence Procurement, or what they referred to in a derogatory manner as “the Arms Deal”.
Now that the Commission has submitted its Report to President Zuma, Maynier must be very worried about what the Report might say about his pathetic appearance before the Commission.
This might very well be why he decided to act with great haste to try to discredit the findings of the Commission even before they are published.
In any case, it has served the partisan interests of his party, the DA, for more than a decade that allegations, suspicions, theories, probabilities of impropriety and corruption concerning the Defence Procurement, without any single fact being offered, of which Adv Moerane spoke, should persist for ever.
This would help to sustain the proposition that benefits the DA that, as should be expected, that in awarding of the Defence Procurement Package, the Government could not but be corrupt and therefore that, by definition, fraud and corruption must have occurred during the Procurement in question!
And so, if we are to paraphrase the playwright, William Congreve, we will say, with a reasonable measure of justice, that: “Hell hath no fury like a Maynier exposed!”
[NB: All the quotations in this article reflecting the Proceedings of the Commission were extracted from the Transcripts which appear on the website of The Arms Procurement Commission: http://www.armscomm.org.za]