/ 4 September 2003

Zuma affidavit said to be defamatory

“Highly placed people” have apparently been implicated in an affidavit made by Deputy President Jacob Zuma in connection with the ongoing arms deal saga, according to a report published in The Star on Thursday.

On Wednesday the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) went to the Pretoria High Court to ask Judge President Bernard Ngoepe to prohibit the publication of the affidavit until after the hearing of an urgent application by Zuma to get access to a letter allegedly implicating him in trying to solicit a bribe.

The letter allegedly indicates that Zuma sought to elicit a R500 000 bribe from Thomson CSF, a company involved in the country’s multibillion-rand arms deal.

According to The Star, in opposing the application by the NDPP to ban the publication of the contents of the statements at this stage, Neil Tuchton, SC (for Zuma), said: “They [the NDPP] not only want to stop us from getting the document, but they also want to stop our story on why we want the document.”

The report quotes MTK Moerane, SC (for the NDPP), as saying that at this stage there was only one version before the court — that of Zuma. He said that highly defamatory statements were made in Zuma’s affidavit about “some highly placed people”. No names were mentioned.

Ngoepe did not make a ruling against the publication of the statement, but said it should not be understood that he was allowing its publication.

Also on Wednesday, counsel for Deputy President Jacob Zuma told the court that Zuma’s side of the story should be told as well.

“The other side of the story has not [been] made public,” said Neil Tuchton, SC, for Zuma.

He was apparently referring to the charge sheet in the case against Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and a number of Shaik’s companies. The charge sheet contains several references to Zuma, including one that he had used a R1-million bribe from a French company to pay for a palatial home in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma is currently in Havana for the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.