South Africa's "Mr Clean" to address British anti-arms gathering

By staff writers
October 12, 2009

The South African politician Andrew Feinstein, well-known for his struggles against corruption and the arms industry, has been announced as the key speaker at a major gathering of anti-arms trade activists in the UK later this month.

Former MP Feinstein is nicknamed “Mr Clean” by the South African media. He belonged to the African National Congress (ANC), before resigning in protest at alleged corruption in arms deals with BAE Systems.

He will address the annual National Gathering of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in London on Saturday 31 October. CAAT is supported by a large number of churches and other faith groups, as well as by secular NGOs.

The news comes only weeks after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that they were asking the Attorney General to prosecute BAE on charges of multimillion pound bribery, including deals with South Africa.

CAAT said that they were “delighted to host this passionate and knowledgeable speaker to share his experience of the arms trade and its impact”.

Feinstein was elected as an ANC MP in South Africa’s first multiracial elections in 1994. He resigned in 2001 after attempting to expose corruption in a major South African arms deal with BAE.

The South African government was criticised for its heavy spending on the deal, apparently prioritising heavy weaponry over pressing needs of high unemployment, poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The Gathering will also host a range of workshops and discussions on other aspects of the arms trade and the growing campaigns against it.

A panel discussion on economic issues will involve the defence economist, Paul Dunne and Greenpeace’s Energy Solutions Campaigner, Louise Hutchins.

The event will be followed on Sunday 1 November by the CAAT Universities Gathering, bringing together students and university staff after a year in which opposition to the arms trade has contributed to significantly increased student activism across Britain.

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