The Arms Deal was never only about Jacob Zuma and his sweetheart relationship with French arms company Thales. We now have even more proof that it was rotten to the core and demands accountability.
It is not often that a juicy story comes to you, rather than the other way round. In the past few weeks former SANDF chief General Siphiwe Nyanda has produced a bombshell. Evidence based on internal documents handed to Open Secrets and shared with Shadow World Investigations is tangible proof of a highly questionable relationship between Nyanda and arms fixer Fana Hlongwane.
The evidence shows that Nyanda received money from a Hlongwane company that was paid “commissions” by British arms mega company BAE Systems as part of the corruption-riddled Arms Deal. With this smoking gun prosecutors can start to dust off the docket on this network and consider prosecutions. The Arms Deal was never only about Jacob Zuma and his sweetheart relationship with French Arms company. We now have even more proof that it was rotten to the core and demands accountability.
In June this year, Open Secrets ran a series of Unaccountable articles focusing on British arms company BAE and two of its mega-agents, Fana Hlongwane and John Bredenkamp, who became rich from the Arms Deal. Bredenkamp died on the day of our publication – but Hlongwane lives on in the lap of luxury.
Among the considerable evidence that has stacked up against Hlongwane is the peculiar business relationship he had with Nyanda. We noted that in 2005 Nyanda had received a R4.36-million home loan from a company controlled by Hlongwane after Nyanda had left the SANDF, and that the loan “had been written off in 2009 with evidence that there was little to no attempt at repayment, and the loan payment flowed directly from one of Hlongwane’s business accounts”. And while both Hlongwane and Nyanda denied bribery, we concluded that the whole loan business “clearly constituted a serious conflict of interest at the very least”.
Shortly after the piece was published, Nyanda approached Open Secrets to discuss the allegations. Nyanda believed that the whole home loan imbroglio had been misunderstood, and he wanted to set the record straight. Fair enough. In fact, Nyanda pointed out, he had actually paid back the loan, illustrating that any claims of conflicts of interest (or worse) were unfounded. To substantiate his claim, Nyanda sent a sheaf of documents that inadvertently revealed important new details about the home loan granted to Nyanda: information that paints the relationship between Nyanda and Hlongwane in a very different, and very damning, light.
But, before we get to that, we have to go a little bit back in time. Get in the Delorean, clock set to 1999.