Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2007-11-07 Reporter: Karima Brown

Mbeki 'Knew of' Ngcuka's Zuma Claim 



Business Day

Date 2007-11-07
Reporter Karima Brown

Web Link


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 judicial matters.

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 of resignation."

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 "hardened".

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 said.

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."

With 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 political ambitions.

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.