Max du Preez

Brothers in arms

2008-01-09 11:16

Max du Preez

So now the ANC is interested in the bribery and corruption around the multi-billion rand arms deal. For almost ten years they have done everything possible to pretend that the scandal didn't exist and went out of their way to make sure there was no independent enquiry into the deals.

Of course, if those appointed by the ANC leadership to compile a report on the arms deal were a little bit more patient, they could have waited for prosecutor Billy Downer to start calling his large collection of witnesses in the case against their leader, Jacob Zuma. Between them, these witnesses can paint a large part of the sordid picture.

Fortunately the ANC doesn't need to appoint investigators or experts to draw up the report. They can simply start by reading the book by one of their own who sacrificed his career in the interests of the truth, After the Party by former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein.

In it they will read of the strange behaviour of their new leader, Jacob Zuma, who made sure the special investigations unit of former judge Willem Heath was not allowed to investigate the arms deal.

Once they had read Feinstein's book as an easy and entertaining introduction, the appointed ANC committee should go to the libraries of the Mail and Guardian and the Sunday Times.

Brave, innovative and hard-working journalists have been peeling the arms deal onion for almost ten years. And for almost ten years the ANC, then under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki, have accused them of "manufacturing" a scandal and of being simply anti-ANC. Mbeki even accused them of being racists - they couldn't imagine black people running a government and not stealing from it, he said.

Wise move

The ANC's national executive was wise when it declared that the report on the arms deal to be compiled by the eight eminent leaders will not be made public. That means they don't have to reflect the strong evidence that the ANC as a party itself received large amounts of money from arms dealers.

The man in charge of the party then, former secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe, is now Zuma's deputy and actually a member of the committee tasked to draw up this report. They would also not have to remind the public of the prominent role the Shaik clan, Zuma confidantes to a man, played in the whole sordid affair.

On the other hand, I'm sure they would have relished the opportunity to publicise the allegations that Mbeki himself had had meetings with the French arms dealers, although he still "can't remember" if he did.

There are equally juicy tales of one Tony Georgiades, a friend of both Mbeki and the former Defence Minister, Joe Modise, who supposedly initiated a lot of the underhand dealings between the ANC leadership and the German arms companies.

I wonder how the ANC's NEC will handle its report if it does clearly implicate the party's new president in conduct unbecoming. Will they then still protest that the charges against him were all a political conspiracy, or will they quietly allow the law to take its course?

Let's hope they're sincere. The ANC and us as a nation really need to cut this cancerous growth out of our system, starting with but not ending with a proper and fair trail for Jacob Zuma.

Send your comments to Max.

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