The Right2Know Campaign has succeeded in having the prohibition of its right to protest outside the Seriti Arms Procurement Commission, overturned in the Pretoria High Court.
Yesterday the Right2Know Campaign was forced to lodge an urgent appeal in the Pretoria High Court contesting the decision by the Tshwane Metro Police to prohibit our gathering (including citing the draconian apartheid-era National Key Points Act) and thus to limit our democratic right to picket outside the Commission. This morning the High Court overturned the prohibition. The decision by the Court reaffirms the constitutional right to protest and hopefully sends a strong message to the Tshwane Metro Police and all other police forces around our country to stop their attempts to illegally deny this right.
The Seriti Arms Procurement Commission is hearing the evidence of senior politicians this week. The Right2Know Campaign believes that this presents an opportunity for former Ministers Kasrils, Lekota, Manuel and former president, Thabo Mbeki to give full account of why the country committed to spend almost R70 billion on weapons in the late 1990’s under a shroud of secrecy. The decision by the cabinet of former president, Thabo Mbeki to buy weapons that the country could not afford, did not need and cannot use has made European Arms companies, implicated in paying bribes in the arms deal, wealthy at the expense of the poor.
The arms deal corrupted our politics, weakened state institutions and has contributed to infighting amongst state security agencies. This in turn fuelled the appetite by the State to control access to information and block the free flow of information on corruption in the arms deal through the proposed Secrecy Bill and other means. We call on Trevor Manuel, Mosioua Lekota, Ronnie Kasrils and Thabo Mbeki to help free the arms deal secrets!
The Arms Procurement Commission was established as a result of almost 15 years of pressure by civil society groups. However R2K is deeply concerned by attempts to limit civil society participation in this process. We note that the commission is failing to act in a fair and consistent manner. This is evident in how it treats witnesses and in making available crucial information required to lead evidence and cross-examine witnesses. We have for example seen no evidence that the commission has scanned and is consulting almost 5million pages of documents detailing arms deal secrets that were collected by the Scorpions. The commission promised to do so after the existence of the containers of documents was exposed by the City Press in August 2013.
Judge Seriti is respectfully reminded that while his commission reports to the President – it is accountable to the people who funded its work and have paid for the arms deal through job losses and a lack of public services.
We call on the Judge Seriti, the Arms Procurement Commission and the witnesses called to give evidence to set the arms deal secrets free!
For further comment contact:
R2K Gauteng provincial organiser: Bongani Xezwi (Cell: 073 904 1626)
R2K Gauteng spokesperson: Dale McKinley (Cell: 072 429 4086)
R2K National spokesperson: Murray Hunter (Cell: 072 672 5468)