Publication: Business Day
Reporter: Karima Brown
Mbeki 'Knew of' Ngcuka's Zuma Claim
President Thabo Mbeki knew about former National Prosecuting
Authority (NPA) boss Bulelani Ngcuka's plans to inform the nation that the state
had a "prima facie" case against former deputy president Jacob Zuma in 2003.
This startling information is contained in the latest Mbeki biography titled
Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred by journalist Mark Gevisser. The information
brings into question the separation of powers and the role of the executive in
It also fuels Zuma's claim that the state's case against him was politically
motivated , and could well boost the African National Congress (ANC) deputy
president's chances in his battle with Mbeki for control of the party.
In the book's introduction Gevisser says, "He (Mbeki) had been
briefed about allegations against Zuma since at least 2001;
in November 2002, he had declined to accept Zuma's offer
At the ANC's conference in Stellenbosch in December 2002, Mbeki defended his
decision to keep Zuma as the deputy of the country, saying he would only act
once investigations found substance to the allegations.
Then in August 2003 after consulting with Mbeki Ngcuka issued a statement
that although there was a "prima facie" case against Zuma, he would not be
charged because a court case would be unwinnable.
This prompted angry rebuttals from Zuma that he was being subjected to a
politically motivated "trial by media".
Gevisser also wrote that Mbeki had in fact asked Zuma to resign prior to Ngcuka
going public, but that by this point Zuma's attitude had
Former Justice Minister Penuell Maduna, one of the first casualties of Mbeki and
Zuma's fallout, told Business Day yesterday that Ngcuka had "informed" him about
the statement but that he was unaware the president had been informed.
"He (Ngcuka) explained things to me. He said the matter
was not straightforward, but complicated *1. But I am not aware that the
president knew of his plans to make the statement on the fact that the NPA
believed it had a 'prima facie' case against Zuma," he said.
Mbeki and Zuma are the frontrunners in the ANC's succession battle, which will
be concluded at its December elective conference in Polokwane.
Zuma's run-ins with the law first started when it was revealed he was being
investigated in connection with corruption charges relating to his former
financial adviser Schabir Shaik, for which the latter was eventually jailed for
15 years on charges of corruption and fraud.
Zuma aides told Business Day Gevisser's revelation was
"proof" that state agencies were used in the president's battle with Zuma *2.
"This gives credence that there was a conspiracy especially if you consider that
former safety and security minister Steve Tshwete told the country ANC leaders
were plotting to overthrow Mbeki. While the minister mentioned Tokyo Sexwale,
Cyril Ramaphosa and Mathews Phosa, the real target was in fact Zuma, hence his
statement shortly thereafter in which he pledged loyalty to Mbeki," the aide
Gevisser says in his book that Zuma and Mbeki were perceived to be "close" but
that the relationship soured .
"In such an environment, a war between leaders is a blood feud rather than a
power play or an ideological battle."
acknowledgements to Karima Brown and Business Day.
*1 Nonsense, the Schabir Shaik case
was about as straightforward a bribery and corruption case as one can get.
Nearly all of The State's evidence was accepted by the High Court and confirmed
by the Supreme Court. It would have been even easier if the Two Donkies Ronnie
Maduna and Ronnie Ngcuka had not decided to let the French company Thomson-CSF
and Frenck pimpernel Alain Thetard off the hook as well.
If Zuma and Thomson-CSF had been charged along with Shaik in one giant
jurisprudential jamboree then all would have been found guilty in the Durban
High Court and we wouldn't be sitting here with another 5 weeks to go and no
finger nails to left chew before Polokwane 2007.
What's more is that Zuma would almost surely have implicated Mbeki for his far
bigger and far more wrongful roles in the Arms Deal and who knows, we might have
a completely different political landscape in 2008 post Polokwane.
*2 Nonsense, Gevisser's revelation is proof that state
agencies were used to keep Zuma and Mbeki out of prison for the last few years
(since 2001/2002 when they should both have been charged for their respective
roles in the Arms Deal).
In any case, this is yet another of those pathetic Karima Brown stories spinning
the political conspiracy myth to assist her principal Jacob Zuma in his battle
to keep out of jail and to lead the ANC.
Where is the analysis of just why Ngcuka came to his "conclusion" that the case
against Zuma was "unwinnable"?
Where is the analysis of just why Ngcuka let Thomson-CSF and Alain Thetard go in
exchange for the most feeble of affidavits, the latter in any case being
nullified by a later affidavit?
Where is the analysis of just why Zuma still remain uncharged after 4 years of
the NPA concluding its investigation where the investigation and prosecuting
teams recommended beyond any doubt that he be prosecuted?
Another question: just who was the nameless, faceless senior counsel who "knew
about these things" whose opinion was "accepted" by Ngcuka to over-rule his own
senior prosecutors in charging Zuma?
The absolute reality is that Mbeki does not want Zuma charged and never wanted
him charged regarding the Arms Deal.
Mbeki got his way using Ngcuka.
The deal was (or thought to be), we'll abandon charges if you relinquished
But then Zuma's attitude hardened: he got wise, clever, greedy and even more
ambitious and just like his benefactor and mentor, Alain Thetard, raised his
middle finger at his estwhile dealmakers.
And that is where we are today.