Johannesburg - People do not want to believe that there was no corruption involved in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal because it feeds into the stereotype that African governments are corrupt, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Monday.
“These allegations without facts, but sustained over many years, are based on a stereotype and the stereotype is African governments are generally corrupt, therefore this African government is corrupt,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
“People shout for one-and-a-half decades, and even when they are given an opportunity to produce facts to substantiate the allegation they don’t have them. But they will not hesitate to repeat that there was corruption.”
Mbeki, who testified at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal, was adamant that there was no proof of corruption and bribery.
He also called on people to stop calling it an “arms deal” as this made it sound crooked, it was a “defence procurement”.
The commission, which was chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the country’s multi-billion rand arms procurement deal in 1999. Mbeki was president of the country at the time and Zuma was his deputy.
This is the first time Mbeki has briefed the media in some time.
The former president said if there had been any corruption, then only the inter-ministerial committee, which he chaired, or Cabinet, could have been involved.
“So please by all means, whoever has the information produce it, to say these ministers, including the then former deputy president this is what they did which was corrupt and Cabinet, this is what they did which was corrupt.
“Those are the two only places where corruption would have had an impact on the process.”
Mbeki said even if corruption had happened lower down, it would mean that the inter-ministerial committee had endorsed it.
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