By Sibongile Khumalo (AFP)

September 15, 2011

PRETORIA — South Africa will re-open the investigation into a multi-billion-dollar arms deal which involves claims of bribery in the country’s largest military contract, the president’s office said on Thursday.

Jacob Zuma has decided “to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, generally known as the ‘arms deal'”, his office said in a statement…

The arms deal is a political hornets’ nest in South Africa, where Zuma himself had faced charges of fraud, money laundering and racketeering in connection with the 1999 deal…South Africa spent about $5 billion to modernise its military, in a deal that included the purchase of 12 trainer Hawk jets and naval patrol boats from five European groups, including BAE systems and French arms firm Thales, which was then known as Thomson-CSF…Several top politicians and businessmen are said to have received kickbacks to help secure the contracts.

The opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed Zuma’s move, but said the new commission’s legitimacy will depend on its mandate and its composition…Read more.