Publication: Business Day
Reporter: Karima Brown
will take ANC down with me if charged, vows Zuma
Supporters say any trial of SA's former number two will open
every door of the government and the ANC, writes Karima Brown
Beleaguered African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Jacob Zuma has
vowed he will not go down alone if he is re-charged by the National Prosecuting
Sources close to Zuma told The Weekender this week that if the deputy president
were hauled before the courts, he would drag the whole
government with him *1.
The state notched three legal victories over Zuma and French arms company Thint
on Friday when the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled that the raids
by the Scorpions on the homes and offices of their lawyers were legal.
The ruling paved the way for the NPA to re- charge Zuma and Thint for fraud and
corruption, allowing the state to use the thousands of documents obtained from
those raids as evidence.
Sources close to the state say Zuma could also face additional charges of tax
evasion and money laundering.
This despite Zuma's legal team indicating that they intend to mount a
constitutional challenge on the grounds that his rights have been violated.
When this happens, and indications point to Zuma possibly going on trial before
the conference in Limpopo, SA needs to prepare for a case
that threatens to blow the government's controversial multibillion-rand arms
deal wide open *2, and may yet settle the raging succession battle in the
"If Thabo thought that putting JZ on trial is not going to affect him, he must
think again," a senior Zuma acolyte said last week.
Zuma has long threatened that he will spare no one in the government,
particularly President Thabo Mbeki, if he goes on trial. Zuma is on record for
promising to call Mbeki and several members of his Cabinet as witnesses should
he go into the dock.
"Mbeki, Penuell Maduna, Alec Erwin and Trevor Manuel
must prepare to be called to account," a senior
Zuma backer told The Weekender. He claimed they all had
intimate knowledge of the arms deal and said that Zuma was going to "spare
A close aide said: "What have we got to lose? JZ lost his job when Mbeki axed
him from the Cabinet without him ever being charged. Then he was falsely accused
of rape, his reputation and standing severely tarnished, but he survived. Then
the corruption trial was thrown out because the state could not even finalise
the charge sheet. If he goes down, it will not be alone. The ANC and the country
must be prepared for what will come."
Zuma's supporters were optimistic about the pending trial, saying that it had
the possibility of "exposing" the extent to which not only senior members of the
government "benefited" but also how money was "funnelled"
"The attempt by (Andrew) Feinstein, Terry Crawford-Browne
and others will pale in comparison *3 with what a trial such as this
could reveal," the aide said.
Also, the NPA will come under pressure to co- operate with their international
counterparts, an eventuality that could be very embarrassing for Mbeki.
Despite parallel investigations by German and British authorities into SA's arms
procurement process, the government has so far resisted any suggestion that
fresh allegations into claims of irregularities into the arms deal require a new
But the spectre of Zuma in the dock will increase pressure not only from the
opposition, but within the ANC and its allies for a reopening of the
investigation. The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African
Communist Party are likely to join the call when Zuma goes on trial.
Last week Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille, who first set the cat
among the pigeons on the whole arms deal saga, again said she had evidence of
payments by warship supplier Thyssen-Krupp, of R500 000 to the ANC and the
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.
The release of former ANC MP Feinstein's book, After the Party, also lifts the
lid on the role of the executive in fending off attempts to gauge the scale of
the rot around the deal. Feinstein was one of the first casualties of the
political fallout of the arms deal. "The hand of the presidency over the
investigation was palpable," he says in the book. He writes that, for instance,
the charge sheet for the arrest of Schabir Shaik was drawn up to charge both
Shaik and Zuma. When presented to Bulelani Ngcuka, then head of the NPA, Ngcuka
is alleged to have responded : "I will charge the deputy president only if my
This week another book, by journalist Mark Gevisser, entitled Thabo Mbeki: The
Dream Deferred, claims Mbeki knew Ngcuka had plans to tell the nation the state
had a "prima facie case" against Zuma but that they did not have a winnable case
in court. Ngcuka, who eventually had to resign after a finding by the Public
Protector that the NPA under his watch had abused its powers, has long been
accused by the Zuma camp of harbouring a political grudge against the ANC deputy
president, who was the party's head of intelligence at the time when Ngcuka was
investigated for being an apartheid spy.
And if, as some have argued, Zuma's corruption trial is the result of political
fallout inside the party, and not neutral investigations by the authorities,
then the ANC is probably in bigger trouble than Zuma.
Any supposed conspirator against Zuma must surely have anticipated that the
fallout from the trial would not only destroy Zuma. Any corruption trial
involving the country's former number two, accused of improperly benefiting from
the biggest defence procurement process in SA's history, will reach into every
corner of the government and the ANC. Two media revelations last year will have
brought this home and could shape the ANC discussion of the Zuma trial if it
has the stomach for a discussion.
Firstly, German media reported that a "senior South African politician" was the
recipient of a R132m bribe that paved the way for the German frigate consortium.
It has also emerged in the local media that Mbeki, while
deputy president and chairman of the Cabinet's procurement subcommittee *4,
allegedly met representatives of French arms company Thales, which was then
bidding to provide battle software for the navy's new corvettes *5. These
revelations have put the lie to the government's
explanation accepted wholeheartedly by the ANC that the arms deal's "primary
contracts" were above reproach and that no significant government official is
implicated in any wrongdoing. *6
Even if Zuma's trial does not go ahead later this month, the headache
does not go away for the ANC's top brass. In fact, it worsens. Can the ANC live
with Zuma accepting nomination for the ANC presidency with a court case still to
be concluded? If not, what rules or arguments can be invoked to persuade him not
to? How and at what cost?
acknowledgements to Karima Brown and Business Day.
*1 Now this of course is what we all
want to see.
The innocent will survive and the guilty will not.
*2 Now this of course is what we all want to see.
*3 Now this of course is what we all want to see.
*4 Mbeki is The Big Fish.
*5 These are no mere allegations.
Mbeki secretly met the most senior officials of Thomson-CSF including its
Chairman Denis Ranque and Vice-Chairmen Jean-Paul Perrier on between three and
six occasion between December 1997 and June 1999.
There is court-quality documentary evidence including further encryted
faxes to prove this.
Mbeki has not denied the meetings, he only claims to have forgotten about them.
But why would even these French criminals send encrypted lies to each other?
Take it from me, these meetings were to do with Mbeki's support or otherwise for
Thomson-CSF's local partner (this was before the days of BEE) being Reuel Khoza
and his Consolidated Network Investments Ltd (CNI) or Schabir Shaik's Nkobi
Investments and Mbeki's guarantee that Thomson-CSF would be awarded the
contracts for the Corvette Combat Suite and its sensors, as follows :
- Corvette Combat Management System (Tavitac NT from Thomson-CSF Navale);
- Diacerto Databus (Thomson-CSF Detexis)
- Internal Communication System (FOCON 32 from Thomson-Signaal);
- Identify Friend-or-Foe Interrogator (from Thomson-CSF Radar);
- Hullmount Sonar (Thomson Marconi Sonar);
- Surveillance Radar (MRR Multirole Radar from Thomson-CSF Navale); and
- Anti-Ship Missile (6 x Exocet MM40 Block I and 11 x Exocet MM40 Block II
- from Aerospatiele, part owned by Thomson-CSF).
All for a tidy sum of R1,3 billion plus about 10% mark-up on the balance of R1,3
billion in 1998 Rands.
- system integration; and
- programme management for entire Combat Suite.
Mbeki indeed guaranteed Thomson-CSF this work long before the contract
It cost Thomson-CSF R299 million in bribes.
Don't believe me? Make those mountain gorillas happy at the standard local and
international rates and I will reciprocate on their behalf.
*6 Hoisted by his own Thetard.