Publication: Democratic Alliance Issued: Date: 2006-07-20 Reporter: Eddie Trent Reporter: Reporter:

DA: Trent - "Arms Deal Meetings: Someone is not Telling the Whole Truth"

 

Statement by Eddie Trent MP
DA Spokesperson on Public Accounts
20 July 2006

Release, Immediate: 20 July 2006

The DA has received a response from the Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad, to my enquiry as to whether then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, met with Thomson CSF on or around 17 December 1998. The response states:

"as previously indicated we have no recollection or record of such a meeting".

Later it states that if such a meeting did take place:

"(it) must have been of such import that it held no meaningful significance".

However, if the meeting did take place it would have amounted to a violation of tender procedures.

(A full copy of the response follows below)

It is clear from this response from Minister Pahad that someone is not telling the whole truth. Either Thomson CSF fabricated a fax or the Presidency is simply refusing to reveal all the facts.

The Presidency's response further supports the DA's argument that the President cannot claim that all his dealings were conducted "by the book". If he or his staff cannot recall a meeting ever having taken place, then they certainly cannot comment on its legitimacy.

The response suggests that even if a meeting did take place it could not have been significant because, at that stage Thomson CSF was not one of the preferred bidders. But this is precisely the DA's point - after the meeting between Thomson CSF and Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, Thomson CSF's status was elevated and it then became a preferred bidder.

Quite frankly, the only thing the Presidency's response has achieved is to raise further questions:
The DA will take this matter further with the Presidency in due course and raise these issues with the Minister in the Presidency. We will also continue to submit parliamentary questions and drive this matter in parliament.

For Information:        Eddie Trent - 083 600 8949
Media Enquiries:         Gareth Van Onselen - 073 179 5957

Letter to follow.



14 July 2006

Mr E Trent (MP)
National Assembly
Parliament
Cape Town

Dear Mr Trent

Further to your correspondence addressed to President Mbeki on 27 January 2006 and your subsequent re-raising of the matter during the debate on the Presidency Budget Vote in June 2006, we respond as follows:

1.      Once again we reiterate that, as previously indicated we have no recollection or record of such a meeting. If as purported in the letter to Ambassador Masekela a meeting did take place it must have been in a situation with others or of such import that it held no meaningful significance. The claims made in the encrypted faxes are those of individuals and do not constitute a basis for the claim that the Deputy President at the time did indeed make any such statements;

2.      Advise that if you study the report of the Auditor General you will see that at the time of the purported meeting the process was well advanced and that the Deputy President was not part of the decision making process for this level of contracting. This matter is dealt with in full in the statement issued by the Ministers of Defence, Trade and Industry, Finance and Public Enterprises on the 12th January 2001.
Also this company was not one of the main contracting parties *1; and

3.      
State categorically that no such assurance was given to Thomson-CF (sic) *2 or any other company. The position with regard to the meeting has been set out above but most certainly the content of any meeting would not have been as imputed by yourself or the documents you present.

This matter has been thoroughly investigated and dealt with, including your inaccurate claims about 'interference in the drafting of the Auditor General's arms deal report'.

We have no intention of engaging further with you on this matter as it is evident that your prime interest is the media attention you seek to attract despite all evidence to the contrary.

Sincerely


Essop Pahad
Minister


*1       Sometimes there are statistics, sometimes spin and other times just plain lies.

Both Thomson-CSF Naval Combat Systems (NCS) France and its subsidiary ADS (Pty) Ltd are parties to and signatories of the Corvette Supply Agreement dated 3 December 1999. The scope of supply of the agreement is for :
"the design, construction, testing and delivery....of 4 (four) Corvettes, which will include 4 (four) Corvette Platforms. 4 (four) Corvette Combat Suites together with logistic support, products, services and equipment, and for an option to order a fifth Corvette, all on the terms as detailed in this Umbrella Agreement and the Supply Terms"

The Price, the sum of :

[all making a cool R6,873 billion in 1998 Rands and at RoEs of :
The following is an image of Thomson-CSF NCS's representative's signature on the agreement.

[]


The Agreement was also signed, inter alia, by the Candid Frenchman Pierre Moynot, together with Lt Gen (Retd) Lambert Moloi on behalf of ADS, as well as Mosiuoa Lekota on behalf of the MoD, January Masilela on behalf on the DoD, Chippy Shaik as Chief of Acquisitions and Ron Haywood on behalf of Armscor.

So Minister of Untruth Pahad cannot be mistaken about this being a contract between the South African Government and Thomson-CSF NCS France and ADS (Pty) Ltd.

The Thomson-CSF NCS France and ADS (Pty) Ltd part had been promised to them two years previously by Mbeki at one of his forgotten meetings with Thomson-CSF.

One wonders where Mbeki got the R22 million to build his new house in Houghton. The taxpayer never paid for it directly.

One thinks, one wonders.


*2      Pierre Moynot states categorically in his encrypted fax of 28 November 1997 *3 that :
"a little later on, he repeated that he had obtained assurance from the Deputy President that we would be awarded the combat system and the sensors".

*3      Evidence Item Number 7804841 in the matter of The State (on behalf of The People) vs S. Shaik and Some Others and presumably in the matter of The State (on behalf of The People) vs J.G. Zuma and The Two Thints (represented by Pierre Moynot).

A translated version :


THOMSON-CSF HOLDING
(SOUTHERN AFRICA) (Pty) Ltd

Tel.(27) 12 - 348 4600
Fax.(27) 12 - 348 4603

***FAX***

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

FROM                      : Pierre Moynot                            DATE                       : 28/11/97

TO                        : M. Dennis / B. de Bollardiere

OUR REF.                 : 332/97                                   Encrypted Fax

NO. OF PAGES    : 2 (including this page)

SUBJECT          : Corvettes RSA

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I - This afternoon I met the person responsible for the short list, who confirmed the following points for me:

1 - There is in fact clear hostility towards DCN,

2 - Unless France makes a huge effort, DCN will not be on the short list to be announced within 8 to 10 days.

3 - It was apparently mentioned to him that J.P.P. is said to have told someone whom he knows that the person responsible for the short list would also speak to the Germans... (that would not surprise me because later on in the conversation he said that he did not have an agreement with DCN and that to the extent that the latter only had a very slim chance, he did not see why he should not try to make some money....all the more so since for him
the only important thing was for us to be awarded the combat system via ADS and the sensors directly).

4 - He has
handed NGS's Executive Summary to the Deputy President, who, he says, is very satisfied, particularly about the offsets offered. To my question as to whether, under the present circumstances, our bid could have any chance, he said that we should submit it as soon as possible. Then, a little later an, he repeated that he had obtained assurance from the Deputy President that we would be awarded the combat system and the sensors.

5 - He believes that France will be awarded the helicopters ...


II      Other information that I obtained indicates the same hostility towards DCN, but it also seems to establish the fact that our acquisition in ADS is in danger of again subjecting the combat system to an invitation to tender. The person responsible for the short list appears to be sure that the combat system will automatically go to ADS, but one should be careful not to underestimate the influence of the establishment.

My feeling is that
our friend is certainly reliable and l believe that if we wish, if not to sell corvettes, then at least to secure the combat system and the sensors, a visit by J.P.P. to the Deputy President should be arranged as won as possible and should be used as an opportunity for him to meet with Jacob Zuma.



Busted.


Riddle

Who is the the person responsible for the short list?