Jacob Zuma demands financial records from Nelson Mandela Foundation, ANC to bolster corruption trial defence
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Durban - As lawyers for former president Jacob Zuma continue with their preparations for his arms deal corruption trial, they have since written to a number of organisations requesting information that may assist them to mount a credible defence strategy.
So far it has emerged that although the letters of requests were sent to at least 11 organisations, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the ruling ANC top the list.
The foundation and the ruling party were both served with their letters on July 21 and 22 this year and were asked to furnish the information by July 26 and 30, 2021 respectively.
Although it appears that the requests are solely meant to help Zuma’s defence team, somehow it implicates the third parties in accepting questionable “donations” from companies and individuals linked to companies that won tenders during the multi-billion arms deal of 1998-99.
During the procurement of modern arms for the South African military, the State in its charge sheet of Zuma which is before the Pietermaritzburg High Court alleges that Zuma used his political clout as the deputy president of the ANC (from 1997) and later of the country (from 1999) to help Durban businessman, Schabir Shaik and his companies under Nkobi Holdings, to score arms deal tenders.
Nkobi-owned companies were BEE partners to Thales, a French arms company that also won tenders. In return, the State alleges that Thales paid bribes to Zuma using Shaik who was also a financial adviser to Zuma.
It is this case that Zuma and his lawyers are now defending and in order to successfully do so, they want the information to prove that some organisations allegedly got “donations” from winning bidders.
“We are in the middle of this preparation of the defence of this aforementioned trial on the corruption, fraud and money laundering charges and are instructed that the ANC has the information that is related to his defences.
“Important to our client’s defence is that he was not involved at all in any protection to any person or any company in return for financial rewards while he served the ANC,” reads part of the letter sent to the ANC.
Writing an almost identical letter to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the lawyers said Zuma wants to prove his innocence using the information in their possession.
“In the evidence submitted to the Commission of inquiry chaired by Justice (Willie) Seriti, Colonel Johan du Plooy of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Mr Richard M Young of C121 at the Seriti Commission, in effect both implicated both former president Dr Nelson Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Documentary evidence presented by Colonel John du Plooy and Mr Richard Young related to the investigation conducted by the German Public Prosecution office in Germany and the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa which revealed that the Nelson Mandela Foundation may have received payments and/or donations from the German and French companies or consortia that were appointed by the South African government in the strategic defence procurement packages after the awarding of four corvette ship contracts by the South African government to the German Corvette Consortium,” Zuma’s lawyers said in their letter.
In the letter, the lawyers added that this evidence that the NPA uncovered shows that the late Mandela may have had a direct role in influencing who was to get some of the tenders on the table at that time.
Kneo Mokgopa, the spokesperson of the Nelson Mandela Foundation acknowledged receiving questions about the matter and promised to come back with a response, but he had not done so by the time this report was compiled.
It appears that the ANC did respond to the request, telling Zuma’s lawyers that the requested financial records cannot be availed because they were destroyed during a flooding incident that affected Luthuli House.
The response was sent via Mncedisi Ndlovu and Sedumedi Attorneys Inc.
“Our client embarked on a diligent search for the documents requested. Despite its best endeavours, the documents could not be found. All ANC documents pre-dating 2005, were damaged and/or destroyed as a result of flooding which occurred in the building where such documents were archived and the ANC has no audited financial statements for the period commencing 1997 up to and including the year 2000,” the lawyers of the ANC said in response to the request.
ANC national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, did not respond when Independent Media asked him about the matter on Wednesday.
Mzwanele Manyi, the spokesperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which was the first to reveal to the public on August 5 that such letters have been sent to the organisations, said he was not at liberty to disclose more than what they have already shared with the public.