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14 December 2001
The Arms deal 2. 

South Africans coughing up billions for

43 Billion Rand deal. A deal so involved that it would take some time for individuals not involved in the original scheme of things months to understand and grasp the full ramifications of the contract. This deal was supposed to bring foreign investment into the country and with that job creation. And what we've seen and heard about thus far does not bode well for the integrity of our government nor the contractors.

43 thousand million Rands (according to SABC TV news) is now more in the region of 300 thousand million Rand. The negotiators never considered inflation nor a weakening Rand during their negotiations. The much needed arms will remain a pipe-dream for our forces. First signs of corruption surfaced with Tony Yengeni and a subsudiary of Daimler Chrysler (ref. previous article). The Germans did not take kindly to this and the man in charge is not only up for fraud here, but also in Germany. More than thirty state officials received discounted cars from DC. South Africans bidding got inside information (it helps when you have family involved in the deal) enabling them to succesfully claim a piece of the pie.

Judge Heath got excluded from the whole investigation by Mbeki himself, probably for fear of Heath's unscrupolous and direct aproach to things. Though thus far, it seems that some dirt is being dug up by the current investigators. For how long, who knows. It is fact that certain investigations by government seems to die a quick death without proper closure and justice.

The Air Force is close to my heart. Maybe because I grew up with Mirages, Sabres and Impalas flying overhead. At a young age I've been priveleged to fly in most jet planes used by the old SAAF. The International Air Show won't pass me by either. And it's sad to see no more of the above in our skies. That was indeed a long time ago, and I'm not fifty yet!
Today our Air Force maintain the absolute minimum in war planes. If they're not for show, they don't get fixed. The ANC closed all doors for Denel and Atlas Aircraft Corporation, cutting budgets and implementing their affirmative action policies. The Rooivalk attack helicopter was the last of many developments and world firsts.  
At the height of the sanction era, the Defence and Air Force were thriving. Our weapons were world grade and better. The G6 motorised cannon is still the best and the Rooivalk will whip anything the Americans have, including the best of breed Apache. Our government killed it. They refused to purchase the Rooivalk from a state owned parastatal for the Air Force. Now that shows a lot of confidence in your own product! This effectively killed any prospects of foreign purchases. 

The Air Force have no spares to maintain our twenty year (and more) old fleet of jet fighters. Pilots can't be trained. The old Harvards have been discontinued more than ten years ago. Last time I saw an Impala was at the war museum in Durban, at that was in a sorry state. Mirages stay on the ground, except for the old CIII that is being used at air shows. And the Air Force is not alone. The Navy had two subs. They've been above water forever. No frigates, no patrol boats. The only sea rescue we have is privately sponsored and manned by volunteers. Then of course the anti-tobacco law took care of the massive John Rolfe sponsorship as well. 

It is indeed sad that what could've been so beneficial to this country (in spite of the fact that these are weapons of death and destruction), has now turned into a major shambles. Will the outside world ever trust the ANC government again? The initial 64 billion has now escalated to over three hundred billion. The world is showing it's mistrust and the governments' lack of integrity by pounding our currency into the ground. At the end of the day this whole arms issue will cost us far more than the negotiated benefits for the people of South Africa. 

The politicians and negotiators don't care too much it seems. They got their cars. They pulled it off. Stuff the rest! 


The proposed (re. approved) replacement for our Mirages. Download the big versions of the Rooivalk and Gripen (these pictures are big).