Arms deal: De Lille, comrade in war of words

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A war of words has erupted between Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and her activist comrade Terry Crawford-Browne, souring their 15-year campaign to expose the government’s alleged arms deal corruption.

De Lille this week publicly distanced herself from Crawford-Browne, who said yesterday “she also screamed at me in November (last year), then apologised”.

But De Lille appears to have turned her back on Crawford-Browne following his testimony to the Seriti Commission this week that it was ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who gave them the names of top ANC leaders opposed to the government’s multi-billion Rand arms deal.

Commission chairman Judge Willie Seriti pushed Crawford-Browne to expose ANC officials who gave him and De Lille information they used to launch their campaign in 1999.

The commission is investigating alleged corruption in the government’s arms procurement.

Crawford-Browne’s testimony appeared to anger De Lille, who issued a statement distancing herself from his statements.

Late yesterday, however, a bewildered Crawford-Browne told Weekend Argus he did not understand why she had tried to “dispute my credibility and then distance herself from me”.

But he revealed that the two had agreed 15 years ago that they would “remain silent about the whistleblowers”.

“We managed to keep that secret for 15 years, until Judge Seriti forced me, under threat of contempt, to reveal who led those ANC MPs.”

Crawford-Browne had taken a further swipe at De Lille in the week, when he accused her of opportunism, and of riding the wave of publicity that followed her arms deal allegations in Parliament.

“As Patricia and I well know, the importance of the De Lille Dossier was not its content, but the hysteria it evoked in the government, and the witch hunt that followed,” he said.

“Patricia has brilliantly used that bizarre document for 15 years to fashion a political career, including her present position as mayor of Cape Town… The De Lille Dossier was revealed as lacking in substance.”

De Lille was tight-lipped in her response to Crawford-Browne. She was brief when Weekend Argus contacted her.

“This personal attack on me and my struggle credentials warrants no response, because while I was fighting against apartheid, Crawford-Browne was a banker in South Africa and using apartheid banking laws to his benefit,” she said.

De Lille added that she got a phone call from Madikizela-Mandela after Crawford-Browne’s revelations to the commission on Wednesday that she had leaked the names of ANC MPs. She said she had not named Madikizela-Mandela as a source. Crawford-Browne said he had been told by former ANC intelligence operative, deceased Bheki Jacobs, that Madikizela-Mandela and other ANC leaders “that I won’t name” opposed the arms deal.

Crawford-Browne, meanwhile, still hoped he and De Lille “could still work together but she’s done nothing on the arms deal” over the last few years.

The ANC this weekend said Crawford-Browne’s submission “before the Seriti Commission is laughable and incredulous”.

The party’s national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said Crawford-Browne had “resorted to tarnishing the good names of leadership of the ANC”.

“He has demonstrated before the nation at large that he is a pathological liar who is a liability to himself and any shred of credibility he may still have,” said Kodwa.

”He will be a monumental failure as he has nothing to offer expect for old wives tales that have no place in the important work being done by the Seriti Commission to uncover the credible truth about the so-called arms deal.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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