Back in 2005, Jacob Zuma’s prosecutors were intent on getting then president Thabo Mbeki to provide evidence against his deputy, stressing that Mbeki’s co-operation was essential to rebutting Zuma’s claim that he had not corruptly blocked a crucial investigation into the arms deal. Though Mbeki’s name never made it onto the state’s list of 207 witnesses against Zuma, confidential National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) documents, handed over to Zuma’s lawyers under threat of legal action, now confirm that the NPA had repeatedly sought meetings with Mbeki to secure his evidence. The then Scorpions believed Mbeki could testify about "Zuma’s role as deputy president while dealing with [his former financial adviser Schabir] Shaik and [French arms company Thales’ SA subsidiary] Thint". "[Mbeki’s] support is very important," states a confidential NPA memo, written days before Zuma was charged with fraud and corruption on June 29 2005. Another says: "Without [Mbeki’s] co-operation we will enc...

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