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NGO says arms deal affidavits could bolster case against Zuma

The NGO Open Secrets says an affidavit filed by a former lawyer for a French arms company could bolster the claim that the arms deal commission was tainted from the beginning.

FILE: One of the Saab Gripen fighter jets, bought by the South African Airforce, as part of the country's controversial arms deal. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – The NGO Open Secrets says an affidavit filed by a former lawyer for a French arms company could strongly bolster the claim that the arms deal commission was tainted from the beginning.

Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reports how Ajay Sooklal had filed an affidavit in which he detailed how the company Thales gave President Jacob Zuma cash in return for his political influence during the arms deal.

In his affidavit, Sooklal says the entire arms deal commission was tainted right from the beginning and that Zuma should have disclosed his conflict, which essentially stopped him from setting up the commission and appointing its commissioners.

Sooklal also says Zuma was regularly and continuously funded by Thales back in the mid-2000 because they fully expected him to win the African National Congress (ANC)’s leadership contest in 2007.

Open Secrets’ Hennie van Vuuren has been a strong critic of the commission.

“This seems to be no surprise move but certainly an important one from somebody who was an eyewitness to much of the dealings in the arms deal, taking place in closed rooms.”

These papers are now part of a case asking a judge to nullify the commission’s findings that there was not an iota of evidence of corruption in the arms deal.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)