Arms deal saga continues in ConCourt

2011-05-04 22:50

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will be asked to order President Jacob Zuma to appoint an inquiry into the arms deal contracts that led to the now abandoned allegations of corruption against him, when it sits in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The application is being brought by Terry Crawford-Browne, a former banker known for his opposition to the deals.

Thursday's application for direct access will be seek a review of the refusal to exercise the presidential power to appoint a commission of inquiry contained in Section 84(2)(f) of the Constitution.

He wants a review of whether the president has fulfilled constitutional obligations and for the court to direct the president to appoint an independent commission of inquiry into the arms deals of 1999.

Crawford-Browne wrote to the president and made a request on December 1 2008 for the commission of inquiry. Current Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was in office at the time.

Former president Thabo Mbeki, who also turned down such a request in 2003, was forced to leave office by the ruling ANC as tension mounted in the party over Zuma's prosecution for allegedly receiving bribes from arms dealers.

Crawford-Browne was told in December 2008 there was no need for inquiry because a criminal investigation was already underway.

The prosecution against Zuma and arms company Thint was eventually abandoned after the National Prosecuting Authority declared there had been political interference in the investigation. Zuma was inaugurated president in May 2009.

The main issue on Thursday will be whether the president has a constitutional obligation to appoint a commission of inquiry in certain factual circumstances, or whether the matter is a discretion that the president may exercise, or not, at will.

Crawford-Browne believes the refusal to appoint a commission was irrational and that the deals may have been tainted by irregularities, fraud and corruption.

The application is opposed by the president, who will not be at court as he is attending the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town until Friday, according to his spokesman Zizi Kodwa.

The South African Institute of Race Relations is a friend of the court on the grounds that corruption is a threat to the constitutional order of South Africa, that the president's refusal is irrational and unreasonable and that the court should direct the president to take reasonable steps to address corruption by appointing an independent commission of inquiry.

  • Elbie - 2011-05-05 00:10

    And this could not happen soon enough.

      Marcell - 2011-05-05 03:01

      The carpet is so high you need a ladder to get over it.

  • Zupta - 2011-05-05 00:21

    Not sure u going to get anywhere with this one . The ANC does not want to reopen this corruption charge there are too many of them involved in this misdemeanor. Best to brush it under the carpet.

  • - 2011-05-05 02:56

    This enquiry is necessary and will continue to haunt SA government. We, the citizens need to know who in government, which companies, which officials, family and friends drew improper and unjustified financial enrichment from the arms deal. They are the one's who are protected by government's refusal to open the arms deal enquiry. The money could have been used optimally for the improvement of service delivery across the entire SA. One hopes that the ConCourt will arrive at the right decision.

  • zaatheist - 2011-05-05 06:06

    We want our money back.

  • BigD - 2011-05-05 06:20

    The arms deal is only the tip of the iceberg when it come to corruption in SA

  • paulf - 2011-05-05 06:41

    Despite his unequivocal election victory as leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma is by no means assured of the presidency in 2009. After years of investigation, the National Prosecuting Authority is threatening to again press charges of corruption linked to a controversial 1999 arms deal, forcing Mr Zuma to resign if convicted. Mr Zuma strenuously denies any wrongdoing. Below are details of the lengthy drama. THE ARMS DEAL In 1999, the South African government announced its largest-ever post-apartheid arms deal, signing contracts totalling 30bn rand ($5bn; £2.5bn) to modernise its national defence force. The deal involved companies from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Britain, France and South Africa. Even before the allegations of corruption were made, the spending of billions of dollars on new fighter jets, helicopters, submarines and warships was controversial in a country where millions live in poverty. Critics also pointed out that there was no credible threat to South Africa's sovereignty to justify the spending. Latterly, the investigations focused on allegations of conflict of interest, bribery and process violations in the purchasing of equipment. SCHABIR SHAIK CONVICTED In 2005, Jacob Zuma was sacked as South Africa's deputy president after his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of fraud and corruption. Shaik was found guilty of trying to solicit a bribe from Thint, the local subsidiary of French arms company Thales, on behalf of Mr Zuma. The prosecution alleged that, in exchange, Mr Zuma was to shield the firm from an investigation linked to the 1999 deal. Shaik said the money was a donation to the Jacob Zuma Education Fund. Shaik was also convicted of paying R1.3m to Mr Zuma in bribes to use his influence to further Shaik's business interests. The fraud count related to the accounting of the payments. Shaik is currently serving a 15-year sentence and was ordered to pay $5.5m of his assets to the state. The court judgement said there was evidence of "a mutually beneficial symbiosis" between the two men, adding that the payments by Shaik to Mr Zuma "can only have generated a sense of obligation in the recipient". ZUMA TRIAL COLLAPSE In 2006, Mr Zuma went on trial for corruption but the case collapsed after the prosecution said it was not ready to proceed more than a year after he was charged. Mr Zuma was alleged to have accepted bribes from Thint to halt inquiries into the arms deal. Last month, the Supreme Court cleared the way for a second prosecution after it upheld appeals by the state against earlier rulings preventing prosecutors from using documents seized from Mr Zuma. Items obtained during police raids had been deemed impermissible in court because the search warrants used were illegal. New evidence may include a diary that allegedly has information of key meetings between Mr Zuma and Thint. The protracted saga has so far not culminated in a trial, which would either confirm the accusations or exonerate Mr Zuma. The 65-year-old says that this is unfair, and attributes much of his support within the ANC to the way he has been treated. His supporters maintain that he is the victim of a political smear campaign. In May 2006, Mr Zuma was acquitted on charges of rape in an unrelated, high-profile case. TONY YENGENI CONVICTED In January 2007, the ex-ANC parliamentary whip, Tony Yengeni, was released from prison in South Africa after serving just five months of a four-year fraud conviction. His sentence was cut on appeal and further reduced by a general amnesty. Yengeni was the chairman of parliament's defence committee at the time the government negotiated the arms deal. He was convicted in 2003 after it emerged he had received a large discount on the purchase of a luxury car from one of the firms bidding for the contract. He then lied to parliament about the benefit.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-05-05 09:01

    The South African Institute of Race Relations deserves a lot of credit for its efforts. Funny how there was no input in the hate speech case.

  • The Wonderer - 2011-05-05 19:48

    It's about time the truth comes out regarding this, heard so many things along the grape vine. One Sunday before the last election where Zuma stood to be elected president, the pastor of a church I use to visit, asked the congregation to pray for Zuma seeing that his (the pastor's) sister-in-law worked in one of the government departments ( I can't remember which one) & that she told him that Zuma was guilty of corruption, they had proof. So it'll be great to see Zuma brought to Justis once & for all.

  • pages:
  • 1