Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If Zuma spills beans, it's time for Arms Deal inquiry

“Amid growing speculation that Zuma plans to ‘spill the beans’ about former president Thabo Mbeki’s role in the arms deal, [Fikile] Mbalula said: “Zuma never started the arms deal. The arms deal was started by someone who was ANC president.”

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The ANC moved quickly to squash suggestions that one of Zuma’s allies’ strategies would spill the beans on Mbeki in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

“This is definitely not one of his legal strategies. It is pure speculation,” ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus said yesterday.”

In light of the often repeated and seldom — if at all — contradicted suggestion that Jacob Zuma intends enlightening the NPA or other bodies of the involvement of others, including former president Thabo Mbeki, in the arms deal, the above confirmation comes as a welcome if somewhat surprising development.

Indeed, in Judge Chris Nicholson’s judgment he confirms:

” 24. In these papers frequent mention is made of the alleged irregularities in the arms deal. The applicant says in his founding affidavit at paragraph 26 that ‘questions relating to alleged irregularities in the arms deal were raised from September 1999. These were raised in the press and parliament.’

“30. It would be naïve to suggest that the allegations concerning corruption relating to the arms deal have ceased or diminished in intensity. They purport to involve very senior figures in government from the president downwards. The Constitutional Court — the highest judicial custodians of the fountain of all our power and authority — the Constitution — has said the following of and concerning corruption and maladministration.

“32. The applicant is accused of writing a letter dated January 19 2001 to Gavin Woods MP the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts with the intention of blocking the Heath Unit from investigating the arms deal. The applicant points out that the president’s office drafted the letter. There is no denial filed by the president. The court can hardly be unaware of the other dark mutterings emanating from the applicant that if he goes down others will follow him. Like a blinded Samson he threatens to make sure the temple collapses with him. The impression created is that the applicant has knowledge he will disclose if he is faced with conviction and sentence.”

(Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson on Friday, Sept 12 2008 — Case No: 865208 in the matter between: JACOB GEDLEYIHLEKISA ZUMA APPLICANT and NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS RESPONDENT)

“Dark mutterings” that have continued unabated since the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals elected to overturn the decision of Nicholson.

Yet in fairness this may finally achieve some form of justice for the ANC president, the country and relief for the party.

If Mbalula and Niehaus are correct then the time for the convening of the arms deal inquiry, as a matter of urgency, has arrived. This would bring this whole sorry mess under one umbrella guided by the criminal justice system and the judiciary and in which everyone must be afforded equal footing.

This means to me that the matter against Jacob Zuma must be suspended immediately pending the outcome of this inquiry. All parties implicated in the inquiry need to be treated equally and proceeding against Zuma while the others are focused is not a level playing field. He should be afforded the same opportunity to make out his case and involvement without the extra baggage. The additional charges (unrelated) must be put on hold in order to avoid other parties being able to utilise procedures involved in prosecuting those charges to their advantage.

The time has come to cauterise this wound before something or someone dies.

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

I am more certain than not that people would look the other way if Zuma came clean and spilled the beans.