By SA News
President Jacob Zuma told Parliament on Thursday that it was not fair to commit now to releasing the findings of the commission of inquiry on the arms deal that he set up last year, but added that he would be guided by the commission itself on whether or not to make the findings public.
“To do otherwise would unfairly prescribe to the commission the manner in which its recommendations should be framed,” Zuma explained to the National Assembly.
The leader of the opposition, Lindiwe Mazibuko then replied, saying that if Zuma and his administration were serious about cracking down on corruption, he should make a commitment to the House to release the finding of the commission.
But Zuma said it was not fair to make any commitment to releasing the report until the commission had produced its key findings.
He likened making a commitment to release the findings to the public now, to agreeing to take action to treat a medical ailment before one had even received a diagnosis from one’s doctor.
The government, he said, would be guided by learnings from the arms deal whenever it procured arms.
“Certainly I think the arms deal in this country has been an experience that we must all learn from.”
Zuma said he was surprised by the concerns that had been raised over the amendments of the Constitution, following the recent release by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe of a discussion document on the transformation and role of the judiciary system in the developmental South African state.
He said the Constitution was a living document that has already been amended 16 times since it came into effect 15 years ago and that given the time since it came into being now was an opportune time to review it.
“Continuous assessments, done in an open and transparent manner cannot possibly do any harm, especially given the legacy of colonial oppression and apartheid that we must eradicate,” he said.
“We have alluded to the fact that the kind of assessment we are to embark upon is not unusual. For example, universities and research institutions undertake research at times to evaluate the impact of jurisprudence on the lives of people,” he said.
All three arms of government- the judiciary, executive and legislative – must be respected, he said.
Answering another question on what the government is doing to combat illicit capital outflows from Africa a year; Zuma said the government had taken several measures to address this challenge.
This included the financial surveillance department of the Reserve Bank, which oversees exchange control, continues to deal with illegal outflows of funds.
Added to this the Financial Intelligence Centre processes information from banks and other financial institutions in order to prevent money laundering.
“We continue to take measures against wrong doing,” he said, pointing out that the centre had in the previous financial year referred cases to the value of R66.1 million to law enforcement agencies and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) for investigation.
Sars has already confiscated 3.4 million clothing items worth R580 million and drugs worth R139 million and 683 million sticks of cigarettes valued at R180 million.
Sars has also offered amnesty for those that come forward, he said.
He called on MPs to come forward whenever they had evidence of specific cases of corruption, rather than to make general questions about what the government is doing to combat corruption.
Where such cases were reported, the government would act, he said.