The state’s Zuma case

2008-01-02 00:00

PATRICIA de Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats, and former ANC parliamentarian and arms deal critic Andrew Feinstein are among 218 potential state witnesses listed in the indictment against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

The trial is set down from August 4 to December 12 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Also accused are Thint Holdings (Southern Africa) (Pty) Ltd, and Thint (Pty) Ltd, both represented by Pierre Moynot.

Ten of the 18 charges that Zuma faces carry sentences of 15 years’ jail.

The indictment alleges that Zuma, the Thint companies, Schabir Shaik’s Nkobi companies and Shaik acted in common purpose.

De Lille opened a can of worms in Parliament in September 1999 when she gave notice of a motion regarding alleged irregularities in the arms deal.

This was 19 days before the arms deal was approved as a subject for the auditor-general’s special review.

Other MPs past and present on the witness list are the DA’s Roger Burrows and Raenette Taljaard and Gavin Woods of the IFP.

Retired Judge Willem Heath is also on the list. After allegations of corruption were made against Chippy Shaik, Schabir Shaik, Zuma, African Defence Systems (ADS) and Thomson-CSF, the Heath Special Investigation Unit was mandated to investigate irregularities.

Shaik, his Nkobi group, and the Thint companies wished to be protected from such investigations. The reason, the indictment alleges, is that they did not want it known that Zuma intervened informally to help them. A bribe of R500 000 a year was to be paid in exchange for Zuma’s protection of them.

In his capacity as leader of government business in Parliament, Zuma wrote to Woods, then chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, that there was no need for the Heath unit to be involved in any investigation of the arms deal.

Copies were sent to various prime contractors, one of which was the German Frigate consortium, which includes Thomson CSF and ADS.

The indictment alleges that in his capacities as MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism in KZN and later as deputy president, Zuma had informal powers in addition to his formal powers, including freedom to compose and write on official letterheads carrying his weight of office and to influence both local and foreign businessmen.

Attached to the indictment are tables of 783 payments totalling R4 072 499 allegedly made to Zuma or paid for services for the benefit of himself or his family.

Prepared by KPMG, the tables show that the payments were made by Shaik and his Kobitech and Kobitech Transport Systems.

Payments were made for Zuma’s children’s education, vehicles, household expenses, travel costs, clothing and R900 000 for Zuma’s Development Africa project.

The code of conduct in the ministerial handbook of 1984 provides that ministers shall observe practices that are free from corruption and shall not use their office, position or privileged information to distribute favours or patronage nor seek or obtain personal fortune or favour.

Shaik and some Nkobi entities were convicted of corruption, fraud and money laundering in the Durban High Court in June 2005. The prosecution used many facts similar to the charges against Zuma.

The state alleges that Shaik purported to act as Zuma’s financial and/or special economic adviser without charging any fee. Shaik provided a wide range of services free that constitute benefits to Zuma.

In 1998, Zuma assisted Shaik, the Nkobi group and the Thomson-CSF group to resolve a dispute regarding Nkobi’s participation with Thint (Pty) Ltd in the acquisition of ADS.

For Nkobi it meant that Zuma had helped to ensure the group’s survival by obtaining new business.

This was an instance of Zuma using his powers as MEC and/or deputy president of the ANC to further the private business interests of Shaik and the Nkobi group.

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