Letters 'All About Education Donations'
There was no link between an alleged agreement to bribe Deputy President Jacob Zuma and a donation to Zuma's Education Trust, the Durban High Court has been told.
During his sixth day of cross-examination yesterday, Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, explained that letters written before and after a 2000 fax containing the alleged bribe agreement had had everything to do with a donation to the education trust.
However, Shaik said he was still in the dark about the purpose of the fax written by Alain Thetard, a former South African director of French arms company Thomson.
Shaik also accused his French business partners of withholding information.
"You say only God will know why Thetard wrote this?" prosecutor Billy Downer SC exclaimed after Shaik's evidence.
"I have tried to obtain an explanation," Shaik said.
"He (Thetard) said it (the fax) had nothing to do with the Jacob Zuma Education Trust?" Downer inquired.
Shaik answered "Yes".
"Why are you only telling us this now?" Downer asked.
"My memory was only jogged now," Shaik replied.
Downer focused his questions for the day on the allegation that Shaik - who has pleaded not guilty to two charges of corruption and one of fraud - had solicited a bribe from Thomson on behalf of Zuma.
Downer started his questions by focusing on Thetard and Zuma.
Downer: Thetard would not come and give evidence.
Shaik: I really wish he would come as well.
Downer: Zuma can help us.
Downer: You and Zuma discussed the fax?
It was after this exchange that Downer applied to the court to ask for Shaik's comment on answers supplied to the National Prosecuting Authority by Zuma. His request was denied by Judge Hilary Squires.
When the discussion reverted to the letters Shaik had written about the "donation to the Jacob Zuma Education Trust", the following exchange took place.
Downer: But no amount was ever mentioned?
Shaik: No amount was discussed.
Shaik later said the matter had led to considerable embarrassment for him when the French did not pay, as Zuma had made promises to a number of pupils.
It was after a long discussion about Shaik's vague references to the donation issue in his follow-up letters that the businessman replied: "I communicate in guarded fashion."
Downer then replied: "I want to put it to you that, really, does it not make more sense that it (the correspondence) refers to a bribe?"
Shaik: I disagree.
Downer: I also put it to you that your evidence does not make sense on why you had to be guarded.
Shaik: I dispute that.
Downer: None of these letters contain a single reference to the Jacob Zuma Education Trust.
Downer: And only a guarded reference to Zuma.
The trial continues.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and The Star.