There’s no second agenda – Seriti
Chairperson of the arms procurement commission Judge Willie Seriti has rejected claims of a second agenda in the probe into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal and refuted allegations of a sinister motive behind his control of the flow of information at the commission.
In a five-page statement, Seriti refutes allegations that the commission does not intend on getting to the truth about bribes paid or received by those involved in the decade-old arms deal.
Seriti attacked Advocate Norman Moabi, who resigned at the beginning of the month in a tersely worded letter critical of the commission, for making “false allegations” because the latter “resented” that another advocate was appointed as head of legal research because he, Moabi, “considers himself a more experienced practitioner who should have been given that role”.
Seriti, whom Moabi singled out in his resignation letter as being obsessed with the flow of information and ruling the commission with an iron fist, rebuffed allegations that unknown criteria was applied by the commission to pair attorneys and evidence leaders.
Moabi accused the commission of excluding any input from anyone whose views do not advance the commission’s hidden agenda to discredit evidence to be given by witnesses and paint the witnesses as peddling “hearsay” allegations about corruption in the arms deal.
“I came to the commission to serve with integrity, dignity and truthfulness. I cannot, with a clear conscience, pretend to be blind to what is going on at the commission,” reads Moabi’s resignation.
But Seriti has refuted the claims, including that there had been “clandestine” preparation of documents and briefs.
“Insofar as the chairperson may have been seen to control the flow of information, this would have been consistent with regulation (12) (1) of the regulations governing the proceedings of this commission.
“I suspect that Mr Moabi resented the role played by Advocate Mdunge, probably because he considers himself a more experienced practitioner who should have been given that role (of head of legal research). He clearly knows to whom he is referring but he chooses to mislead by referring to an unknown person or persons,” said Seriti, adding that as chairperson he had the prerogative to decide which evidence leader should deal with which witness or evidence.
Ten other senior investigators and staff members of the commission have also written a memorandum in which they reject Moabi’s insinuation that unknown persons have been allowed to dictate the commission’s modus operandi with the view of discrediting evidence that will be given by whistle-blowers when the public hearings resume in March.
“None of us has had any instructions in any form. We as evidence leaders have never at any time been cajoled to have a particular outcome in as far as the objective of the arms deal commission is concerned, been dictated to or deprived of our views in order to reach a particular envisaged outcome,” they said.
They claimed to have all been treated with respect by Seriti and the commissioners since they joined the commission as investigators and evidence leaders.
Seriti said evidence leaders, who will pose questions when the hearing starts and who have gone through volumes of documentation related to the arms deal, had been interacting with the first 11 witnesses and rejected claims that the commission is a mere ruse meant to discredit the allegations made by the witnesses.
“The commission has always interacted with them (evidence leaders and investigators) in an open, transparent manner and they have no reason to doubt my bona fides. Instead, they have expressed full confidence in me and my fellow commissioners,” said Seriti.