De Lille Shoots from the Lip and GCIS Chief Returns Fire
Patricia de Lille
There has been a recent furore over the arms deal that has brought the whole sorry scandal back into the news again. I feel vindicated that the allegations I originally brought up in parliament on September 9 1999 are finally being addressed.
When will the ANC learn that the truth will always out? Here is a timeline :
September 9 1999
- I called for a judicial inquiry into the arms deal. In that dossier; I confirmed the link between Schabir Shaik and Jacob Zuma. Four of the people named have since been investigated and evidence of wrongdoing on their part has come to light. One person named in that original dossier who has still not been investigated is our current president. In the dossier I showed how the German bid of Thyssen and Ferrostaal was not originally short-listed in 1995. The re-entrance of this bid onto the short-list followed a visit to Germany by Thabo Mbeki, then deputy president. Suddenly the Spanish and British bids were ousted and the German one included. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to this curious chain of events.
September 15 1999
- Mosiuoa Lekota spoke in parliament of my "unwillingness to co-operate". He even went to the Archbishop to try to get me to hand over my information relating to the arms deal.
End of November 1999
- With the support of 15 NGO's I handed my information over to the Heath special investigating unit.
September 21 2000
- Auditor-general confirmed irregularities in the arms deal.
October and November 2000
- SCOPA holds public hearings and calls for a three-agency investigation. It was at this time that the ANC MP Andrew Feinstein became the first casualty in the arms deal debacle when the ANC had him removed as the chairperson of SCOPA.
January 15 2001
- I was summoned to the offices of Frank Kahn and Lubbe who were conducting the investigations to compile a report for President Thabo Mbeki.
January 19 2001
- President Mbeki made a statement on television based on the Kahn and Lubbe report claiming that there was no prima facie evidence and therefore no proclamation would be issued to the Heath investigating unit.
January 20 2001
- I started receiving death threats and went public with them.
January 26 2001
- Kahn and Lubbe sent a report to Business Day claiming Mbeki had distorted the findings of their report.
February 6 2001
- Scorpions raid Judge Heath's office and seize all his information.
- I was subpoenaed by the Scorpions to appear in front of them.
- Joint investigating reports were submitted to parliament clearing the government of any wrongdoing. I immediately dismissed the report as a whitewash and questioned how they could differentiate between the actions of the government and its officials.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was the sorry saga of the arms deal as the government tried to cover up its wrongdoings. The one term that has become so instrumental in this issue is that of prima facie evidence.
The Latin for prima facie is "at first view" and it means sufficient evidence to establish the facts in question unless rebutted. A prima facie case is a lawsuit that alleges facts to be adequate.
In January 2001, President Mbeki claimed there was no prima facie evidence to warrant an investigation by the Heath special investigating unit. Many legal minds at the time, however, stated that prima facie evidence was not necessary for an investigation to be conducted, only in the event that a charge was laid. The events of the past two years concerning Tony Yengeni and Deputy President Jacob Zuma now show that there was certainly enough indication of wrongdoing to warrant an investigation. Now that we finally have the elusive prima facie evidence though, the Scorpions are claiming they can't lay charges against Zuma. Finding this completely unacceptable, I instructed my legal council to write to Bulelani Ngcuka, asking him to tell us all why he had decided not to prosecute the deputy president. We gave him until September 1 to come back to us but he still has not responded. According to the Promotion of Access to Administrative Justice, Ngcuka has 90 days to furnish his reasons, but we at least expect him to confirm his decision by with us now, so that we don't have to assume things based on media reports. My lawyer has therefore written my another letter to Bulelani Ngcuka, again requesting a confirmation of his decision.
Another question : why did advocate Gerda Ferreira resign from the Scorpions after producing the prima facie evidence? Could it be because of the decision by Bulelani Ngcuka not to prosecute Deputy President Jacob Zuma?
I'm still waiting for the government to take strong action against their members implicated in this sordid mess.
The Independent Democrats believe that the basic principles of good political governance are :
Government Accountability Transparency Public participation Effective government delivery.
We currently have around 23 000 members, cutting across all traditional racial and sectoral divides and represented in all nine provinces with party offices. The provinces will all be launching within three months. Our deputy, Professor Themba Sono, and I have given our own money to the cause. I had to take out a bond on my house to do so.
Patricia de Lille is the leader of the Independent Democrats
With acknowledgements to Patricia de Lille and The Sunday Independent.