Gunning for JZ
five weeks before the start of its highest profile trial, South Africa’s
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is broadening its investigation of former
Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who is to face charges of fraud, corruption and
perhaps tax evasion.
The central issue at Zuma’s trial will be what Judge Hilary Squires called the ‘generally corrupt relationship’ between Zuma and Schabir Shaik at the latter’s trial which ended with conviction on three charges in June. That centres on the allegation that Zuma agreed to provide protection for the French arms company, Thalès, which won a 6 billion rand (US$ 920 million) contract to supply four new Corvette warships. Thalès’ South African subsidiary, Thint, was initially charged with Shaik but charges against it were withdrawn. Now we hear that the investigations into Thint’s role in the saga have reopened.
The investigators are also looking at some seamy claims about the personal lives of Zuma and his son, according to documents sent to Africa Confidential. The claims could embarrass Zuma, who was formerly the patron of South Africa’s Moral Regeneration Movement.
In 2004, Zuma told the Movement: ‘The MRM was founded on the principles that South Africans are appalled by the symptoms of moral decay which sometimes occur in this society. These include the blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life, the abuse of women and children...’.
This moral position contrasts sharply with claims about Zuma’s behaviour made in an affidavit given to the NPA on 21 October 2003 by Sabeer Sheik- Ibrahim, a former business partner of Schabir Shaik. Sheik-Ibrahim’s affidavit starts with reports of financial impropriety and claims that Schabir Shaik used Zuma’s name to win business. Then, the NPA investigator asked Sheik-Ibrahim if he knew of a young lady called Robin. Sheik-Ibrahim replied that there were two Robins working for Schabir Shaik.
One was the receptionist and the other had more wide-ranging duties, he said. ‘Her real role was, basically Schabir boasted about her having to entertain the Deputy President and some other people and himself’. Pressed to be more specific, Sheik-Ibrahim said: ‘She would pomp [have sexual intercourse] with the Deputy President’. Sheik-Ibrahim adds that Robin was paid R20,000-30,000 a month for her services by Shaik’s Nkobi Holdings company. Sheik-Ibrahim’s other claim concerns the charges against Zuma’s son Mziwoxolo Zuma for rape at the University of Zululand in 2000. The complainant withdrew the charges voluntarily, according to Zuma’s spokeswoman, Mathula Magubane. Sheik-Ibrahim claimed he asked about a new female employee on the staff salary accounts of a company of which he was a director along with Shaik. He says the company accountant told him that the employee was none other than the woman who had withdrawn the rape charges against Zuma’s son. When asked by Africa Confidential about these claims, a spokesman for Nkobi said that Sheik- Ibrahim wasn’t a credible witness but declined to give a detailed refutation.
With acknowledgement to the Africa Confidential.