Arms-Sales Whistleblower Stands Firm Against ANC MPs

Wyndham Hartley

Cape Town — African National Congress (ANC) suggestions

that he had broken the law and threats to have him removed

from the defence committee have failed to bully

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier into revealing

his sources in the continuing "dodgy arms deals" saga

Two weeks ago, Maynier earned the wrath of the ANC

by going public with information about the sale of arms

to countries with dubious human rights records -- Iran,

Libya, Syria, Zimbabwe and North Korea -- and

some pending sales that could be approved soon.

His contention that there was a crisis in

the National Conventional Arms Control

Committee (NCACC), and that some of the deals

had been illegally approved by officials, prompted

the committee chairman, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe ,

to deny the claims of illegality in a press conference

and Parliament's defence committee to discuss

the matter at a special meeting yesterday.

In that meeting, despite a battering from ANC MPs,

Maynier refused to divulge his sources and insisted

that it should be Radebe and the NCACC

"in the dock" and not himself.

Most ANC MPs said that Maynier had broken

protocol in going public before placing

the information before the defence committee.

One ANC MP, Stella Ndabeni, after repeatedly

asking Maynier to divulge his sources insisted

that the information had to have been

illegally obtained and that it was also

illegal for Maynier to make such information public.

She called for the defence committee to

ask speaker Max Sisulu to have Maynier

removed from the defence committee.

ANC MPs also complained that the news of

the arms sales -- glide bombs and grenade launchers

to Libya, grenade launchers to Syria, and

grenade launchers and assault rifles to Venezuela,

as well as pending sales of aviator G-suits to Iran,

sniper rifles to Syria, and

ammunition to Zimbabwe -- put SA in a bad light.

Freedom Front MP Pieter Groenewald told

the defence committee nothing could be done

until the committee had a legal opinion and

until the NCACC had appeared before it

to explain itself.

Committee chairman Mnyamezeli Booi said

both would happen, and he would approach

Sisulu for political and legal guidance as

the Maynier disclosures were unprecedented.

Clearly the ANC wants to punish Maynier

but is unsure how to go about it.

A statement from the office of ANC chief whip

Mathole Motshekga insisted that Maynier had

broken the law by disclosing the business of the NCACC.

"On Monday, caucus called on Parliament to investigate

the legality of Maynier's action.

Notwithstanding the authenticity or lack thereof of

the report's contents, we believe that by making

public information detailing various arms deals

between our country and other states cannot be

in the best interest of the country's national security."

The statement and Booi said that in the past,

South Africans had fallen prey

to "information pedlars" and this could not

be allowed to happen again .

Maynier insisted Radebe had virtually confirmed

his claims in his press conference and interviews.

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             J-L K.
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