Publication: Democratic Alliance Issued: Date: 2003-02-10 Reporter: Raenette Taljaard

DA to Question Zuma on Alleged Thetard Meeting(s) and Corruption

Statement by Raenette Taljaard, MP
Democratic Alliance Spokesperson on the Arms Deal

10 February 2003

The DA finds it unacceptable that Deputy President Jacob Zuma refuses to break his silence about meetings he allegedly held with Mr Alain Thetard, the former head of the Southern African division of Thomson CSF (now Thales), during which he allegedly solicited payments in return for protection of Thales during the course of the arms probe. Reports in the Mail and Guardian this week suggest that the investigative noose around the Deputy President is tightening.

It is regrettable that the Scorpions had to resort to a subpoena to obtain the Deputy President's banking records. The Deputy President should have demonstrated his good faith and innocence by opening his accounts for a voluntary forensic audit and making the findings of that audit public, as called for by the DA.

The allegations against Deputy President Zuma are very serious and a warrant for arrest has been issued for Mr Thetard whilst Mr Schabir Shaik - the other party present at the alleged meetings in South Africa and France - is facing serious criminal charges in South Africa.

The Deputy President faces a simple challenge. Either confirm or deny that any of these meetings took place. If these meetings did not take place, there is no reason for the Deputy President to maintain a stoic silence about the allegations. They should be dismissed out of hand. If, however, the meetings did take place, the Deputy President has many subsequent questions to answer about his conduct and his alleged interests in the procurement itself.

The DA believes that, at the very least, the Deputy President must come clean on the Thetard meetings. The failure by the Deputy President to respond to questions e-mailed to his office asking him to confirm or deny the Thetard meeting(s) and the failure by his spokesperson to return calls in this regard must be condemned in the strongest terms for its failure to account to the people of South Africa. The DA will table questions in Parliament calling on Deputy President Zuma to come clean.

In addition, the Presidency must answer why it has failed to institute a Commission of Inquiry into this matter and into the broader question of Mr Zuma's links to Mr Schabir Shaik, given the latter's extensive business interests and the ever-present question of conflicts of interest that remains unresolved.

[Parliamentary questions to the Deputy President and President appended below]

Question for Oral Reply

Ms R. Taljaard to ask the Deputy President

Whether (1) the Deputy President has had any meetings on 11 March 2000 and/or on any other date with Mr Alain Thetard, former head of Thomson-CSF's (now Thales') Southern Africa division and/or Mr Schabir Shaik in Durban or elsewhere in South Africa and/or Mauritius and/or France?

If so, (i) where did the meeting(s) take place; (ii) what was discussed at the meeting(s), (iii) what was the outcome of the meeting(s), (iv) were any agreements made for payments to be made or any undertakings given for protection for Thomson-CSF/Thales from the investigation by the Joint Investigating Team probing the Strategic Defence Procurement during the course of the meeting(s)?

(2) Whether the Deputy President has any business interests and/or shareholdings in either Thales and/or the Nkobi Group and/or African Defence Systems (ADS). If so, (i) what is the nature of the interest, (ii) how was it acquired and (iii) when was it acquired?

(3) Whether he will make a statement on the matter?

Question for Oral Reply

Ms R. Taljaard to ask the President

Whether (1) he agrees with the letter written by his advisor Ms M. Gumbi dated 6 December 2002, drafted in response to a request by the Democratic Party to the Presidency to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe allegations against Deputy President Jacob Zuma, in which Ms M. Gumbi states that Commissions of Inquiry are not appointed on the basis of mere allegations and that there will therefore be no Commission of Inquiry to probe the serious allegations of corruption and bribery that have been levelled against South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma,

(2) this advice is consistent with the approach adopted by the Presidency when Mr Kevin Wakeford made allegations against key market players for the role their conduct may have played in the collapse on the Rand in 2001,and the Myburgh Commission was appointed subsequently on the basis of mere allegations,

(3) he considers it appropriate to have a cloud of suspicion hanging unresolved over the second highest political office in South Africa tasked with the leadership of the campaign for moral renewal and regeneration,

(4) whether he will make a statement on the matter?

With acknowledgements to Raenette Taljaard and the Democratic Alliance.