President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

Fantastic news that President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided not to oppose the Corruption Watch/Right2Know challenge to the Seriti commission’s whitewash of the arms deal Ramaphosa Will Not Fight Challenge to Arms Deal Probe (April 15).

It is also vindication for a handful of journalists, including Karyn Maughan, who have doggedly exposed the corruption unleashed on SA during the 1990s by the British, German, Swedish and French governments in collusion with the hierarchy of the ANC.

By contrast, our dysfunctional judiciary system — including the Constitutional Court — sadly failed to see that the arms deal was strategically, economically and financially irrational, and thus unconstitutional.

The warships and warplanes were bought for bribes instead of defence against any conceivable foreign military threat or any other strategic purpose. The rationale for the arms deal, that R30bn spent on armaments would magically generate R110bn in offset benefits, has predictably proved spurious.

The still-outstanding Barclays Bank’s 20-year foreign loan agreement for the BAE/Saab contracts, guaranteed by the British government and signed by former finance minister Trevor Manuel, is a textbook example of “third world” debt entrapment, the default clauses being described as “potentially catastrophic for SA”.

The cabinet was warned in 1999 by the affordability study conducted by the Treasury and foreign consultants that the arms deal was a reckless proposition that would lead the country into “mounting economic, fiscal and financial difficulties”. We have had a stagnant economy ever since, with understandable anger and social unrest by impoverished people who desperately need jobs and economic upliftment.

When in 1998 I learned that BAE was laundering bribes to ANC politicians ahead of the 1999 elections, I was staggered to learn that it was then not illegal in English law to bribe foreigners. The world has made progress since then!

At issue now should be the question of restitution from European governments, which deliberately wrecked SA’s hard-won struggle from apartheid to constitutional democracy.

Terry Crawford-Browne
Via e-mail