Publication: Sunday Independent
Reporter: Jeremy Gordin
Reporter: Christelle Terreblanche
Gloves Off as Prizefighters Put Their Seconds in the Ring
It's down to bare knuckles in the fight for the presidency of the ANC.
With a fortnight to go until the party's national conference in Polokwane,
senior members from both the Mbeki and Zuma camps have entered the ring and the
ANC's top brass are to hear claims of vote buying and other irregularities.
Mosiuoa Lekota, the ANC chairman, yesterday confirmed that the national
executive committee would meet on Tuesday for a last-minute planning session and
the ANC's electoral commission would release a collated leadership nominations
list on Wednesday.
Zuma led overwhelmingly in provincial nominations tallied last weekend.
But the process is now mired in claims from all sides of
vote buying, factional canvassing and even
the last-minute creation of ghost branches.
Kgalema Motlanthe, the party's secretary general, warned that these disturbing
claims would need to be investigated quickly and that the ANC ran the risk of
becoming paralysed to fight elections in 2009.
But, in ANC tradition, and especially given the directive of the party executive
that the run-up to the Polokwane conference should not be seen by the public to
be nasty, the main contenders have stepped out of the ring and sent in their
seconds to do the punching.
In President Thabo Mbeki's corner is Mosiuoa Lekota, the minister of defence,
while Zweli Mkhize, the MEC for finance in KwaZulu-Natal and Zuma's friend and
confidant, is there for the ANC deputy president.
Lekota - whom one of Zuma's aides described as having "an indecent obsession
with Zuma" - was the first into the ring earlier this week when he
accused Zuma of having asked to be fired from the cabinet
in June 2005.
Zuma had therefore, said Lekota, behaved disingenuously by later claiming that
there was a "conspiracy" against him. Zuma had also effectively lied, he
claimed, about Mbeki and the party by saying there had been such a conspiracy.
Lekota claimed that Zuma had held shares in Nkobi
Holdings, the company belonging to Schabir Shaik *1, the Durban
businessman found guilty of corruption in June 2005. It was as a result of his
relationship with Zuma that Mbeki fired Zuma.
Early yesterday morning, Zuma said from London *2
he was not going to comment on Lekota's "nonsense" until he returned in the next
few days, but he said that Mkhize was handling the matter. Mkhize hit back
yesterday in a 1 200-word written statement.
It was untrue, he wrote, that Zuma had requested to be relieved from his
position as the country's deputy president, as alleged by Lekota.
"Both in private meetings of the leadership and in public address, the president
indicated that he had taken the decision due to certain considerations
associated with the judgment in the Schabir Shaik trial.
"It was not Zuma who went to the president to ask to be released; this was a
matter of public record."
Mkhize also pointed out that it was untrue to say that Zuma had shares in any of
"Nor is it true," he wrote, "as the [Lekota newspaper] report seems to suggest,
that Zuma could have pocketed money destined for the ANC behind the back of the
"This is again a matter of public record, that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal received
donations from Shaik and signed for money received.
"The evidence in court [about Zuma, Shaik and money] referred to money recorded
to have been received by Zuma as a private personal arrangement. To suggest
otherwise would be defamatory," wrote Mkhize.
Regarding Lekota's claims that Zuma had fallaciously made claims that there was
a conspiracy against him, Mkhize wrote: "The involvement of state intelligence
agents in allegations of senior members of the ANC involved in plots against the
state has been worrying. Zuma has been among those falsely implicated."
Mkhize said that Lekota had been cautioned at the last NEC meeting to desist
from such public attacks on the ANC deputy president, yet he persisted.
With acknowledgements to Jeremy Gordin, Christelle Terreblanche and Sunday Independent.
*1 Zuma probably never directly and
openly held shares in Nkobi Holdings.
But what is a court-proven fact is that about 3% to 5% of the shares of Nkobi
were destined for him. However, the ANC decided not to accept the Malaysian
bumiputerian model of indigenous economic empowerment causing this arrangement
not to be formally implemented.
In all probability Zuma still collected his dues from Nkobi via a special
purpose vehicle called Clanwest Investments (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary company of
Nkobi Holdings where Schabir Shaik is officially the main shareholder, but it is
clear that about 40% of its shares are held on behalf of an occult shareholder.
All of this dovetails into the fact that Zuma was to receive R500 000 per year
from Thomson-CSF until ADS started paying dividends (mainly fro its profits from
the corvette combat suite contract. Zuma would have earned about this amount of
money annually from his effective shareholding in ADS through Nkobi Holdings had
he openly held these shares.
This scheme of arrangement also dovetails with the court-proven fact that
another special purpose vehicle called Floryn Investments (Pty) Ltd, a
subsidiary company of Nkobi Holdings where Schabir Shaik is also officially the
main shareholder, holds about 40% of its shares on behalf of the ANC and through
which Nkobi's dues to the ANC are channelled.