Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2004-10-21 Reporter: Sapa

Modise Named in French Letter






Date 2004-10-21


The name of former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander and defence minister Joe Modise surfaced in the Shaik corruption trial on Thursday in connection with behind-the-scenes manoeuvring on South Africa's warships programme.*

Forensic auditor Johan van der Walt, who has presented a 259-page report on the affairs of Shaik's companies, was outlining the activities of the Thomson group, a collection of French arms companies with whom Shaik secured a slice of the corvette deal.

Van der Walt produced a letter written by Thomson's then southern Africa vice president Pierre Moynot to Modise in his capacity as commander in chief of MK.

The letter said Thomson's international vice president Olivier Lafarge was coming to South Africa the following month.

It asked if Lafarge could meet Modise to "present the company's activities and main projects in South Africa, i.e. the equipment of possible future warships for the South Africa Navy as well as our coastal surveillance system."

At the time the navy was well into a process to secure new vessels, and it appeared that British or Spanish bidders would get the main contract.

However this was superseded when the African National Congress came into power in 1994 and launched first a defence review and then a new multi-billion rand defence acquisition programme.

Modise became defence minister in the new government, and Thomson secured a share of the contract for the electronic combat suite for the four corvettes that were ordered.

Modise, who died in 2001, himself became enmeshed in controversy when it emerged that a company he headed had secured a contract to work on the Eastern Cape's Coega port project, which is linked to the R4,5-billion submarine purchase that is part of the arms package.

Part of the State's case in the Shaik trial is that after the contract was awarded, Deputy President Jacob Zuma used his political muscle to protect Thomson from a probe into corruption in the arms deal**. Van der Walt earlier told the court that in his experience, when it came to awarding contracts especially where there was a possibility of irregularities, all businesses had a formal process of adjudicating tenders to make the process fair.

However it was also his experience that behind the scenes there was a process "secondary to the main one" to assist people in securing contracts***.

With acknowledgement to Sapa.

* It is crucial to remember that 20% of ADS was swung the way of Futuristic Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd which is part-owned by none other than Lt Gen (Retd) Lambert Moloi who was Modise's aide-de-camp in MK and is Modise's brother-in-law (refer to Corvette Deal Organogram).

** The only logical and plausible reason why Thomson required protection was that they had used insiders such as Chippy Shaikh, Joe Modise, Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki to get the deal in the first place.

*** A clear indication of cronyism and nepotism.