New allegations have emerged further implicating President Jacob Zuma in the controversial arms deal. An exposé released over the weekend has suggested that Zuma accepted a R500 000 a year bribe, put forward by French arms group Thales.
The reported deal, involving the use of the code word ‘Eiffel Tower’, meant that Zuma accepted the bribe in exchange for political protection from the arms deal probe. It also meant that Thales were to be guaranteed future business ventures in the country. The allegations are based on a testimony during an arbitration involving South African attorney, Ajay Sooklal, who revealed that Zuma was bribed with fancy clothes, legal fees and lavish accommodation whilst facing corruption charges.
The Presidency has since responded by referring all new allegations towards the Arms Procurement Commission, led by Judge Willie Seriti. The commission was established in 2011 to look into claims of corruption and fraud within the arms deal saga.
However outspoken activist, Terry Crawford Browne, has attacked the commission by questioning its reliability.
“It has been a farce, and I’m not reliant on information from the commission. I’m arguing on the basis of the constitution that the arms deal is illegal, unconstitutional, and fraudulent,” he said.
Three notable witnesses who were meant to testify before the commission, namely Paul Holden, Hennie van Vuuren, and Andrew Feinstein, all withdrew from the hearings in August, in protest of the manner in which it was being run. They further called for it to be immediately dissolved. Amongst their grievances was the commission’s failure to allow for the cross-examination of former trade and industry minister, Alec Erwin.
Browne agreed with the sentiment that the arms industry as a whole was notorious for corruption. He further stated that nearly every single arms deal was in some way riddled with bribes.
“Our government was horribly naive as they thought it was going to be a clean deal,” he said.
With fresh leaks continuing to emerge on a nearly 15 year long scandal, Browne said Zuma and government as a whole were facing so many issues at the moment, that they were struggling to ‘plug the holes’, and keep information on the arms deal from pouring out. He claimed there was a huge effort within government to suppress the saga, but the issue kept coming back.
“I’m afraid the arms deal continues to contaminate our whole political lifestyle in South Africa,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)