Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Chantelle Benjamin, Xolani Xundu

ANC Bid to Calm Storm Over Zuma, Ngcuka



Business Day

Date 2003-09-15


Chantelle Benjamin, Xolani Xundu

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Director of prosecutions prepares to rebut claim that he was apartheid spy.

Rocked by a political storm involving allegations and counterallegations of corruption, African National Congress (ANC) leaders met in a two-day session at the weekend as the controversy over spying claims facing national prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka spiralled, threatening to damage the party ahead of next year's general election.

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) meeting discussed the continuing saga between Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Ngcuka. "It would have been strange for the NEC to meet and not talk about the issue. The whole discussion, which was not part of the agenda, centred around the fact that everyone is alleging corruption."

Motlanthe would not be drawn on the outcome of these discussions, saying a press statement would be issued today.

This comes as Ngcuka is fighting off an apparent bid from elements within the party to derail his high-profile investigation of Zuma, which has taken the form of Ngcuka being accused of being an apartheid spy.

Today, Ngcuka is set to fight back in the Pretoria High Court, by answering Zuma's court application for him to hand over an encrypted fax that is at the heart of allegations that Zuma solicited a R500000 bribe from French arms company Thales.

The state has refused to hand over the fax, alleging it would reveal the identity of witnesses due to testify in the trial of Durban businessman Schabir Shaik, Zuma's financial adviser.

Zuma has said he took the matter to court because Ngcuka had told the nation he was guilty, but denied him a day in court.

Ngcuka is also preparing to file court papers which he claims proves he was not an apartheid spy. These will form part of a defamation suit against a Sunday newspaper and former transport minister Mac Maharaj.

Ngcuka's spokesman, Sipho Ngwema, said the papers will seek to prove that Ngcuka was not agent RS452, as alleged, but that the codename belongs to a woman based in Eastern Cape who spied on the United Democratic Front. "The most obvious question is why Ngcuka, who was based in KwaZulu-Natal, would have had an Eastern Cape handler," said Ngwema.

In a recent SABC TV interview, Maharaj, who was part of Project Bible, which investigated spying allegations in the ANC, confirmed media reports that Ngcuka had been investigated in the 1980s.

The ANC's suspicions were apparently aroused after Ngcuka was issued a passport in 1981, while in detention on suspicion of treason. According to Ngwema, Ngcuka had applied for the passport before he was arrested.

With acknowledgements to Chantelle Benjamin, Xolani Xundu and the Business Day.