Business magnate and senior African National Congress leader Tokyo Sexwale has called on President Thabo Mbeki to explain his involvement in the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal, the Sunday Times reported.
Sexwale made an impassioned plea to a hushed ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Friday for Mbeki “to take the ANC into his confidence”.
Meanwhile, confidential documents obtained by the Mail & Guardian reveal that arms giant ThyssenKrupp desperately lobbied the government in an attempt to head off a German probe into the arms deal.
The dossier shows that a lawyer for Sven Moeller, a local Thyssen representative, has written repeatedly to Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla and the department’s Director General Menzi Simelane to try to prevent the seizure of documents and the interrogation of witnesses in South Africa.
The German prosecuting authorities are probing claims that the company bribed South African officials and politicians to land a contract for warships for the South African Navy, and have formally asked the South African government for assistance. Moeller is a suspect.
So far, the South Africans have not acceded to the Germans’ request.
The “Mabandla dossier” sheds new light on dealings with the ANC during the arms deal bidding process and raises new questions about Mbeki’s role.
The dossier reveals that that Tony Georgiadis, Thyssen’s South African lobbyist during the bid process, paid R500 000 into ANC coffers, as previously alleged by Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille. The ANC has previously claimed to know nothing about this “donation”.
The dossier also reveals that Georgiadis also paid R500 000 each to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Graça Machel’s development charity in Mozambique and that British police recently raided the London business premises of Georgiadis, who reportedly had Mbeki’s ear at the time of the arms deal negotiations.
The dossier further alleges that Thyssen paid $22-million to a Georgiadis company, Mallar, following the conclusion of the warship deal in 2000.
German prosecutors allege Mallar was used to channel “at least the major part [of the $22-million] to South African officials and Cabinet ministers”. Georgiadis has denied this allegation.
In a clear warning to Mabandla of the German probe’s dangerous implications, the dossier includes a letter from a rogue South African businessman, Nick Achterberg, alleging Thyssen had paid more than R100-million to Mbeki in a Swiss bank account.
However, Achterberg’s letter makes it clear that the claim is hearsay; Thyssen’s lawyers have dismissed it as “fanciful and ridiculous”.
The Moeller letters to Mabandla claim that the German investigation was initiated as a result of Achterberg’s allegations.
The NEC meeting began on Friday in Johannesburg and is expected to finish its business on Monday.
Mbeki did not attend the meeting, although he has the right to attend as an ex-officio member.