Zuma nervy on Judge Frans quit in Arms Deal Commission


NATIONAL: (By Yasir Habib Khan)– President Zuma is in state of quandary on the resignation of Judge Frans Legodi in high profile arms deal commission.

The quit has left Zuma in anxiety whirligig as commission has already seen several resignations that included that of law researcher Kate Painting and senior investigator Norman Moabi.

“It is a worry I must say. I did not expect it – particularly at this time. I think in terms of the report, the commission would very soon be beginning its hearings. I think it is unfortunate,” said Zuma in a interview.

President Jacob Zuma says he has not decided on whether to replace Judge Frans Legodi as a Commissioner at the Arms Procurement Commission.

Legodi resigned from the Commission a few days before its first hearings are to begin.  The Commission was appointed by Zuma in 2011 to probe the multi-billion Rand Arms Deal which took place in the late 1990′s.
Completed in 1999 the arms deal cost South Africa up to R38 billion at the time and involved companies from Sweden, Britain, France and Germany among others and it is estimated that up to R1.1 billion in bribes was paid.

President said that the resignation of Judge Francis Legodi from the Arms Deal Commission was unexpected.

The Presidency announced earlier on Thursday that the President had received the resignation of Judge Legodi, who was a member of the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of Fraud, Corruption, Impropriety or Irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, commonly referred to as the Arms Deal.

“The judge said he had made up his mind for personal reasons and it was clear that he has made up his mind. I’m hoping that the remaining commissioners will be able to do the job,” said Zuma.

Public hearings of the commission are due to kick off in Pretoria on 5 August and are set to run until 31 January next year. The President has given the commission two years to complete its work and a further six months to hand in its report to him.

Zuma says they have to consider a replacement carefully. “I think it’s unfortunate I was able to have an audience with judge as well as the chairperson and in fact with all members of the commission.”

He says: “The judge said he has made up his mind for personal reasons. It was clear he’s made up his mind and of course once that happens if the judge and of course once that happens if the judge says look these are personal reasons why I’m go away I don’t think you could prevail in any other way.”  Independent Defence analyst, Helmoet Heitman, said the resignation of high profile individuals from the Seriti Arms Procurement Commission is likely to damage its reputation.

Heitman said Justice Legodi’s departure is bad for the commission and will slow things down and complicate them.  ”The problem is that it further reduces credibility”, he added.

Judge Legodi’s resignation follows those of senior investigator Norman Moabi  and law researcher Kate Painting. Moabi resigned earlier, accusing commission chair Judge Willie Seriti of having a second agenda.

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