Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2001-01-17 Reporter: Editor:

Heath : Mbeki Garners Facts 

Publication  News24
Date 2001-01-17
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Cape Town - President Thabo Mbeki has approached the country's watchdog bodies for additional information before deciding whether to accept or reject the justice minister's recommendation to exclude the Heath unit from the arms probe.

This follows after initial expectation that Mbeki would on Tuesday announce his decision amid increasing insistence from several quarters that he should reject Justice Minister Dr Penuell Maduna's recommendation. Informed sources believe the president's decision will be announced on Thursday.

Presidential spokesperson Nazeem Mahatey said the president on Monday instructed the Auditor-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Protector and the Heath unit to make more information available.

Maduna earlier this week in his recommendation to Mbeki said if Heath were to form part of the probe it would be a slap in the face of a recent finding by the Constitutional Court. In terms of this finding, set aside for a year, Heath's appointment to head the unit had been unconstitutional. The minister also indicated that Heath never made the so-called De Lille dossier, which led to the probe, and other "critical information" available to him.

Heath's office meanwhile in a media statement refuted all the reasons Maduna advanced to the president in trying to persuade him not to involve Heath in the probe. Heath's spokesperson Naomi Goodley on enquiry declined to confirm whether the De Lille dossier was sent to Mbeki as additional information.

Paul Setsetse, Maduna's spokesperson said the minister would abide by whatever decision Mbeki made.

"Whether the president accepts the minister's recommendation or not, legally the president has the final say over whether the Heath unit will be involved in any probe."

ACDP defence spokesperson, Advocate Mighty Mabasa, said since it was ANC policy for party leaders never to contradict each other, it was unlikely that Mbeki's decision would oppose Maduna's recommendation.

"The president however, is requested in the interests of the people of this country to make an exception in this case."

Similarly the DA, UDM and IFP sharply criticised Maduna's recommendation in refusing to involve Heath in the arms probe.

With acknowledgement to