OPINION

Jacob Zuma's giant arms deal flip-flop

Inside Politics
19 April 2012

Inside Politics on what the President said on the matter in 2012, and 2004

A Zuma flip flop: On the arms deal in 2004 and 2012

On 15 September 2011, after more than a decade of obfuscation and denial, President Zuma announced that he would appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, more infamously known as "the arms deal".

In making the announcement, the President was curt and offered little in the way of a substantive explanation for his decision, saying only that "closure on this subject will be in the public interest".

The President was a little more forthcoming when the matter was raised in the National Assembly more recently, during President's Question Time in March, although, again, he was clearly trying to stick to a rather limited script, saying in his inimitable mangled fashion, "the fact of the matter is that this is a commission of the country that must get the truth."

Pushed a little harder - and in response to the ANC ‘sweetheart question', "does government plan any interim steps to make sure that we prevent future problems that may occur with the procurement of arms" - he would say the following:

"The arms deal in this country has been an experience that we must all learn from. In future, if we were to undertake such a task, we would certainly look at what happened in our experience and take the correct steps in order to eliminate some of the things that might have caused problems. There's no doubt about it."

That would seem a pretty self explanatory statement: an admission of a problem and, through a commission of inquiry, a chance to identify mistakes and learn from them.

How the worm turns.

Turn the clock back eight years or so, to 2004, and then-Deputy President Jacob Zuma also stood before the National Assembly, this time to answer questions in his capacity as President Thabo Mbeki's second in command.

Now, compare and contrast.

He was asked the following question through the Speaker by Mr LM Green MP, a member of the opposition at the time:

"Madam Speaker, with reference to the 10-year review and given Government's experience of 10 years, if you were to be given the opportunity to do the arms deal all over again, would you have made the same choices, given the damage this has done to Government and to South Africa as a whole?"

Sound familiar? Essentially exactly the same question asked of the President in March this year. The question might have been the same, the Deputy President's answer, however, was not:

"Madam Speaker, that is another imagined issue. It's just a figment of the imagination, because Hon Members have not paid attention to what benefits have been brought by the arms deal in terms of the industry in this country. Again, they would be imagining it. I know that they have been chasing to find something. Up to this day, nobody has found anything. They have been chasing it in the sea, in the sky and everywhere. Nothing has been found. What is the problem? I don't think they know what the problem is. They are just imagining a problem. Sorry Sir, you'll find nothing at the end. [Applause]" [HANSARD; 25 February 2004; Pages 118/9]

I know what you are thinking: ‘Is this the same person speaking?'

Absolutely it is. Jacob Zuma.

In 2004 - any suggestion there was a problem with the arms deal was a "figment of the imagination", the subject of a wild goose chase, and mere speculation about an undertaking that not only brought "benefits" to industry but that any interrogation of would "find nothing at the end".

Skip forward to 2012 and we have a commission of inquiry, established for the country to "get the truth" and to identify the "correct steps in order to eliminate some of the things that might have caused problems", so that we might all "learn from the experience".

As far as political flip flops go - this is a biggy.

Certainly I think it is worth asking the President a parliamentary question about how he reconciles his two contrasting statements, both made before Parliament.

One final note on Zuma's 2004 claim that people were ignoring the benefits "brought by the arms deal in terms of the industry in this country", well that too has recently been proven nonsense.

I won't set it all out here. All you need to do is read this statement from the DA's shadow minister of defence, David Maynier MP and, importantly, the table it contains. To cut a long story short, and to quote from the statement: "The arms deal was supposed to generate roughly R110 billion in investments and 65 000 jobs. However, the figures revealed today show that the arms deal actually generated roughly R6 billion in actual investment and 13 690 new jobs."

The Cape Times ran the story as its front page banner story lead this week: ‘Arms deal offset ripoff'

But perhaps the real questions now are these: if Zuma's 2004 answer was a load of nonsense, why should we believe his bona fides in 2012? And, is the President's newfound desire to seek out "the truth" nothing more than a euphemism for some vague interrogation of the facts that ostensibly cares about getting to the bottom of it all, but in reality does the bare minimum and ends up making a series of generic meaningless recommendations about how government's procurement regulations should be better controlled?

You be the judge.

This article first appeared on the Inside Politics website. The site can also be followed on Twitter here.

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Comments

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 responses to this article

the real issue...
..is Polokwane 2012.
wait for spectacular announcements about a fortnight before Mangaung. Never under-estimate the devilry of a sitting african president; he and his cabal of ilk-cronies will perform revisionist history that will make you admire . .more

by Plutarch on April 19 2012, 16:31
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Contextualised...
It is time that people of a Western persuasion, who instill certain meanings into words such as justice, commitment, honesty, agreement, fairness, etc, broaden their horizons and investigate what these words really mean in the context here.

It . .more

by JVR on April 19 2012, 21:05
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Not confusing at all
Different eras, different roles, different access to information, time sensitive information classification changes with time...as flip flops go, its a minnow not a biggie...yet more sensation seeking media claptrap...

by . on April 19 2012, 21:38
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It's a rather silly meaningless article leading nowhere.
Who really cares what silly evasions Jacob Zuma came up with in 2004? What matters is where our tax money went; who stole what, and what kickbacks went into which pockets. The factual account of where the money went, and why, is all that really . .more

by Mute Fool on April 20 2012, 00:40
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@Mute Fool
"The factual account of where the money went, and why, is all that really matters." No, that is NOT all that matters. It is ensuring that this never happens again, that the crooks involved are exposed, convicted and removed from future influence, and . .more

by Dinks on April 20 2012, 08:10
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@Dinks
And further that people with this kind of mindset and lack of ethics are removed from government, their ill gotten gains confiscated and they be removed from any further role in governing Seffrica.

by James Bell on April 20 2012, 08:42
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Dotty's Dot atheist soul
Just because your SACP boss (the horridly poked one) is a Zulu just like his own boss, the capi de tutti capi (Inkhosinostra top dog), does you have to daily prostitute your atheist soul?
Have you no pride, honor or ethics?
How much do they pay . .more

by Injala Apera on April 20 2012, 08:47
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Zuma's wheeling and dealing
The 2004 Zuma statement DOES matter! Call it duck & dive, or call it blatant lies... the real issue is do we want to entrust this country to another five years of rule by Jacob Zuma? Can the ANC continue to entrust the party leadership to such a man? . .more

by THINKER on April 20 2012, 11:18
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Shallow Thinking by some
As Dennis Healy once said its like being "savaged by a dead sheep" if you want to "go for the jugular" by comparing 2004 and 2012 statements...that's an approach that can only bring the response from Zuma that since becoming President so much more . .more

by . on April 20 2012, 11:38
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@Injala
Hi you are well?

Lots of allegations, claims but here are some facts...I'm no prostitute, have no SACP boss, I have pride, honor and ethics, I do not get paid for my comments, and the country is not going to the dogs...

Have a great . .more

by . on April 20 2012, 11:41
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@Dinks and James Bell
Well, we first need to know "the factual account of where the money went, and why", and having found that out all else follows.

by Mute Fool on April 20 2012, 12:27
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@Dot
You claim :

"I'm no prostitute, have no SACP boss, I have pride, honor and ethics, I do not get paid for my comments, and the country is not going to the dogs... "

Gosh! You mean to tell us your "pride, honor and ethics" are aligned . .more

by Mute Fool on April 20 2012, 12:48
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at thoseo argue with .
It is nigh impossible in the space allocated for you to counter the wholly specious answers and comments which . makes.
his sophistry is of an exceedingly high level; what's more he has no feelings about any subject other than to offer half-baked and . .more

by cassandra on April 20 2012, 12:57
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Denying dot
You can deny the obvious as much you want... we won't believe a word you utter... zero credibility...
By the way, how much does the kleptocratic ineptocracy rewards you for the not so sterling 24/7 obfuscating & denying spin job?

by Injala Apera on April 20 2012, 13:05
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@Mute Fool
My pride, honor and ethics are aligned with independent thought and not any one organization, it takes a special unthinking individual such as yourself who lowers ones standards to only find fault and not find anything positive about anything or anyone. . .more

by . on April 20 2012, 13:19
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@Cassandra
Those who find the space for personal attacks could surely find the space to comment on the subject matter, but that would require effort, not something that you appear well acquainted or even vaguely familiar. Its only cant and sophistry to those unable . .more

by . on April 20 2012, 13:30
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@Injala
I don't care if you believe me or not....there are always alternative views and opinions that need to be aired. You must really hate democracy now that everyone gets to have their say. You also miss baaskap? Only it seems that a minority seem to have very . .more

by . on April 20 2012, 13:35
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@Injala Apera
"Atheist soul". WTF sort of oxymoron is that? Us atheists dont' have "souls".

by Jeff on April 20 2012, 19:08
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Ah, we have wonderful people in this country!
Helen Zille, Mamphele Ramphele, Thuli Madonsela, Vusi Pikoli, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Hugh Glenister, Terry Crawford-Browne, and many many more sterling folk come to mind ; and we are blessed have many who are pretty competent at what they do : Trevor Manuel, . .more

by Mute Fool on April 20 2012, 21:22
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Dotty Dot is right, the country is not going to the dogs.
It's going to the ubermenschen and crooks in control of the ANC. Day before yesterday the acting Police Commissioner told Parliament "powers beyond him" were instructing him who he was not allowed to investigate. It seems former spy boss Richard Mdluli is . .more

by Mute Fool on April 21 2012, 01:03
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The Arms deal and Other Corrupt Matters
I agree with Mute Fool. Everyone had a finger in the arms deal en is old news. They all shared the loot. I suppose some got more than others. The greediest got the biggest slice of cake I presume. What has happened with ALL OUR MONIES ? MMMMMM? wHERE . .more

by Marie van Graan - Westonaria on April 21 2012, 14:54
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Cognitive Distortions
Its difficult to reason with the mentally challenged...no matter how much being out in the sunshine should cheer them up...the displays of absolutistic dichotomous thinking concerning political parties and events in RSA shows the deficiencies in social . .more

by . on April 21 2012, 16:18
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Heh..heh....heh
Old Dotty Dot is becoming paranoid and beginning to foam at the mouth. He should relax, we all know the world only ends when Jesus returns as the ANC is kicked out of power.

Mmmm...."absolutistic dichotomous thinking"? Dot's ANC cadre stipend . .more

by Mute Fool on April 22 2012, 00:36
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absolutistic
Try Merriam-Webster...use the unabridged version...

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolutistic (adjective)

I suppose some dinasours are so wedded to the past they don't like the inclusion of new words to their regional . .more

by . on April 22 2012, 05:29
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Heh...heh...heh.
Not all that is "new" is either "good" or "laudable" or worthy of emulation. But any "new" find or invention is bound to attract the rapt attention and immediate support of sheep like Dot who regard anything "new" as good and smart as long as there are . .more

by Mute Fool on April 22 2012, 11:26
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Dinosaurs and their Cognitive Distortions
The more I read some contributions, the more I realize how apt my description of their dinosaur mentality...its definately not propaganda that the "formally advantaged" led a good life at the expense of others to whom they denied equivalent healthcare, . .more

by . on April 22 2012, 15:40
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Dot the Dinosaur.
Much has changed since 2009; the criminals have entrenched themselves in power and employed dinosaurs to harp on perceived past "injustices" so as to hide what is going on now. As the Leader of the Opposition correctly points out : The ANC has lost its . .more

by Mute Fool on April 23 2012, 00:56
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@Mute Fool
To understand the progress that has been made to get us where we are today it's important to understand where we come from....clearly a few dinosaurs with fond memories of apartheid roam the earth....

by . on April 23 2012, 08:04
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