News / South Africa / State Capture

Neo Thale
Night digital supervisor
2 minute read
18 May 2021
10:02 pm

Mbete admits to ignoring arms deal tip, says she would do it again

Neo Thale

Mbete said one simply did not take 'something because someone has said it' and present it to a 'busy' Parliament. 

Baleka Mbete, the former National Assembly speaker, told the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture that she ignored a tip-off about the arms deal, and given the opportunity, she would do it again.

She told the commission chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that she ignored a document containing “scary things” about the controversial arms deal because it had “no signature and “no author”.

“You do not just take something because someone has said it and you plunge it into the space of Parliament,” she said.

“I want to tell you chairperson of an occasion when I was deputy speaker. The speaker was away and I was acting speaker. A document was slid under my door. As it turned out, when I read it it was about the arms deal. That document had no signature. It  had no author.

ALSO READ: ‘Zuma children education’ and other dodgy payments flagged by NPA

“But, yes, it contained scary things that were being claimed. I had to apply my mind for hours and I took a decision. Parliament is very busy and I must take this dramatic document and say Parliament must take this into its programme. On what basis? Who is the author? And I just did not act on it.

She said one simply did not take “something because someone has said it” and present it to a busy Parliament.

“I am saying if another opportunity like that happened, I would still decide that. I will not take a document that is a lot of rumour, drama and very concerning. But why is there no author? The person who slid it under my door must come and face me then I will act on it.”

Mbeke and Manuel need to account

Earlier on Tuesday, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, herself an arms deal whistleblower, said former president Thabo Mbeki and the likes of ANC veteran Trevor Manuel should take collective responsibility for not taking allegations of corruption involving the multibillion-rand arms deal seriously.

De Lille, who blew the whistle on the arms deal almost 22 years ago in Parliament, says she was subjected to death threats and vilification for speaking out about the alleged corruption involving the military arms acquisition project concluded in the late 1990s.

On Monday, De Lillie was the first witness to be called to the stand in former president Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales’ corruption case related to the arms deals.

However, the trial was postponed to 26 May 2021 after Zuma’s new legal team requested more time to prepare a special plea challenging advocate Billy Downer’s authority to prosecute the case.

Watch the proceedings below, courtesy of SABC News.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe