Fax is 'Heart of the Matter'
Deputy president's case centres on two lines of alleged mistranslation
Two lines in the translated English version of the encrypted fax allegedly written by Thomson director Alain Thétard are at the core of Deputy President Jacob Zuma's application for the original handwritten French fax to be handed to him.
The affidavit by Zuma, presented in the Pretoria High Court this week, includes a translation of the Scorpions' typed, transcribed version by Zuma's own French language expert, Catherine du Toit of Stellenbosch University, who found a number of discrepancies in the Scorpions' translation.
Du Toit says "Since the second-last paragraph is open to different translations, one would not want to express a final opinion on the meaning of this paragraph without examining the original handwritten version."
The two lines in question, as rendered in Du Toit's translation, are
"The protection of THOMSON.csf within the context of the current investigation (SITRON)"; and
'The permanent support of JZ in future projects."
Zuma says the fax was "at the heart of the investigation against me".
Thétard is alleged to have said in the note that he met Zuma and his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, to secure the deputy president's "protection" in the investigation of the arms deal.
Zuma denies attending such a meeting. Du Toit said the French transcript "contains errors" in spelling and punctuation.*
"If these errors are not due to the transcription process, I would say that they point to a certain negligent use of language on the part of the writer ," Du Toit said in a supporting affidavit.
Zuma said in his affidavit that although he had invoked the Promotion of Access to Information Act to acquire copies of the fax, only the typed version had been provided by the Scorpions.
The National Prosecuting Authority contested Zuma's application this week for access to the document. Judge Bernard Ngoepe will rule on the matter on September 15.
The Scorpions attempted to block Zuma's affidavit from being made public, but their application was rejected by Judge Ngoepe.
* The straw must surely be firmly clutched.
With acknowledgement to Ranjeni Munusamy and the Sunday Times.