Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2007-11-10 Reporter: Karima Brown

I will take ANC down with me if charged, vows Zuma



Business Day

Date 2007-11-10
Reporter Karima Brown

Web Link


Supporters say any trial of SA's former number two will open every door of the government and the ANC, writes Karima Brown

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 Authority (NPA).

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 ANC.

"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 no one".

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" to it."

"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 probe.

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 president agrees."

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?

With 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 : Plus : All for a tidy sum of R1,3 billion plus about 10% mark-up on the balance of R1,3 billion in 1998 Rands.

Mbeki indeed guaranteed Thomson-CSF this work long before the contract negotiation phase.

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.