The South African Arms Deal was where both Andrew (as a Member of Parliament in South Africa) and Paul (as an investigative researcher) first focused on the arms trade. In 1999 the young democracy spent around £6 billion on weapons that it arguably didn’t need and in which it is estimated £220 million in bribes were paid. Andrew’s first book After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey Inside the ANC (published internationally as After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future) and Paul’s first and second books The Arms Deal in Your Pocket and Devil in the Detail, covered the deal and its consequences.
In 2011, SA President Jacob Zuma appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Arms Deal, known as the Seriti Commission of Inquiry after its chair, Judge Willie Seriti. Paul and Andrew made a detailed submission to the Commission and attempted to assist the Commission undertake its investigation. When it became clear that the Commission was a cover-up, Paul and Andrew, with their colleague Hennie van Vuuren, answered the call of civil society and withdrew all participation. For this stance, Paul, Andrew and Hennie were named anti-corruption heroes.
In 2016, the Seriti Commission delivered its final report, widely regarded as a cover-up. Paul and Andrew worked closely with local civil society (Corruption Watch and R2K) to challenge the Seriti Commission’s report. In 2019, the High Court set aside the Commission’s report, vindicating Paul and Andrew’s decision to withdraw cooperation. The judgment, which allows new investigations into the Arms Deal to take place, also creates a legal precedent that can be used to stop future commissions of inquiry from engaging in cover-ups.