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The Devil in the Detail – How the Arms Deal changed everything

Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren discuss their latest book, The Devil in the Detail: How the Arms Deal Changed Everything. Camera work: Darlene Creamer & Shane Williams. Editing: Darlene Creamer.

18th November 2011

By: Creamer Media Reporter


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Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren speak to Creamer Media's Polity to discuss their latest book, The Devil in the Detail: How the Arms Deal Changed Everything.

About the book:
The 'Arms Deal' was never a single event. Rather it was, and still is, a series of scandals and outrages, all contributing towards a dubious momentum that takes South Africa further away from transparent democratic practice.


The Devil in the Detail, written by two of South Africa’s leading researchers on the subject, takes the reader on a journey of insight. Witness at close hand the breaking open of State secrets, with tales of outrageous personal enrichment. Explore how the multi-billion dollar Arms Deal emerged out of criminal networks of both the apartheid SADF and the ANC`s security apparatus, raising questions as to whether South Africa’s remarkable transition was not oiled, at key points, by criminal intent and collusion.

Follow the trail of the various offset deals donor after the Arms Deal – cumulatively worth as much – and discover that corruption continues to impact on defence spending in South Africa. Examine the economics and witness how the Arms Deal was not only economically irrational, but virtually suicidal, almost single-handedly derailing the post-apartheid economic project. Finally read about the rise of the `shadow state`, the politicisation of prosecutions and the rise of the `spooks`. The remarkable conclusion of this landmark study is that years after the deal took place, the forces that drove its decisions have only grown in strength further blighting South Africa’s prospects for a future in which all may have a share.


This book, was researched as part of a project of the ISS Cape Town based Corruption & Governance Programme. It will be essential reading material for anyone following the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into the Arms Deal and everyone concerned with global corruption which blights democracy in South Africa.


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