Malatsi Resigns, Claims NNP Racist Smear Campaign
Deputy Social Development Minister David Malatsi, facing allegations of corruption, is to resign his national government post.
He told reporters in Cape Town he was the victim of a smear campaign waged against him by Western Cape premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk and a "racist clique" within the New National Party.
Malatsi, accompanied by his wife Julia, said he would fly to Pretoria on Wednesday to request that President Thabo Mbeki relieve him of his duties.
"I am resigning because I want to clear my name and I don't want to embarrass the government and the President... through the actions I intend to take against the NNP."
He was to consult his lawyers later in the day.
The former Western Cape environment MEC claimed Van Schalkwyk knew of a R300000 donation made to the NNP in April last year, although he did not necessarily know who the donor was, he said.
Malatsi and former Western Cape premier Peter Marais were suspended from the NNP last week amidst allegations they solicited the donation from the developer of the controversial Roodefontein golf estate development.
The former MEC allegedly pushed through approval for Count Ricardo Agusta to proceed with the development after he and Marais met the developers, and the Italian billionaire had paid the donation to the NNP.
Malatsi said the donation was discussed at an executive committee meeting of the NNP, attended by the premier and other NNP provincial cabinet ministers.
Van Schalkwyk, who is also leader of the NNP, has denied prior knowledge of the donation.
Malatsi also refuted accusations that he used R18000 of NNP money to repay a debt to a guest house owned by his wife, displaying a document verifying that the money was a personal loan.
Van Schalkwyk revealed over the weekend that Malatsi had paid the debt from his Khayelitsha branch account, using money allegedly donated by Agusta prior to the Roodefontein approval.
The amount related to a claim initially made to the Western Cape government for accommodation and subsistence during the World Summit on Sustainable Development last year.
Malatsi claimed the NNP leader had suggested he pay the debt "so that we can kill the story".
He attacked the NNP, saying it was racist, selective and opposed to black empowerment groups.
Malatsi said he had been happy within the party until he was appointed by Mbeki as a deputy minister in November last year.
The appointment had been made purely by Mbeki and had been much to the "dismay and dislike" of a racist group with the party.
Malatsi said he still had a bright future in politics, and hinted at a move to another, unnamed, political party.
"I think I need to clear my name first so that I don't carry the baggage that I take with me from the NNP."
Although he would refuse to resign from the party, he believed the NNP was making itself irrelevant and would ultimately disappear from South African politics.
He added that he had been tried by the party, and the media, in a "kangaroo court", having been found guilty merely on allegations.
Malatsi said no-one was completely "clean" in politics and it was important that allegations be proved before politicians be found guilty of wrongdoing.
"There is only one person that is clean and that is God," Malatsi said.
With acknowledgement to Sapa.