ANC Youth League Demands Zuma Be Cleared
The African National Congress Youth League has thrown its weight behind Deputy President Jacob Zuma by calling on National Prosecuting Authority head Bulelani Ngcuka to formally clear the party's deputy leader.
Ngcuka's decision not to prosecute Zuma while declaring that "he has a case to answer" has hampered the youth league's 2004 election list process.
The league will probably endorse the deputy president for another term of office.
Youth league president Malusi Gigaba said yesterday that Zuma's case had been closed in an "improper and unfortunate" way, leaving a dark cloud hanging over the deputy president's head.
"We can't live with the impression that some sort of evidence is there to convict the deputy president but because of his status he can't be touched," Gigaba said.
Insiders say the youth league was supporting the renomination of Zuma for the position of deputy president, but during internal debates members had expressed serious concern about "the element of doubt in his integrity" left by the unresolved corruption case.
Ngcuka said there was a prima facie case that Zuma had solicited a bribe of R500 000 in exchange for protecting the French-based company Thales from prosecution relating to SA's multibillion- rand arms deal.
However, after weighing the evidence, Ngcuka found that the case could not be won because the French government would not co-operate in bringing two witnesses to testify.
Gigaba said the youth league's national executive committee resolved to make the call to Ngcuka at its meeting in Johannesburg at the weekend because Ngcuka's decision not to prosecute Zuma excluded an "essential element" of completely clearing him.
He also questioned Ngcuka's motive for hosting a "secret meeting" with black editors on the Zuma matter, saying this probably left many questions in the minds of the public.
Gigaba reiterated President Thabo Mbeki's assertion that "the presumption of innocence until proven guilty" was the essence of the country's constitution and justice system.
Therefore, by leaving the Zuma prosecution hanging, Ngcuka was subjecting the deputy president to gross injustice, the youth league said.
However, Gigaba stressed that the youth league's demand was not in any way meant to undermine Ngcuka or the outstanding work of the Scorpions in the prosecution relating to the arms deal.
"We disagree with them on the way they had carried out this particular case," he said.
The executive committee also expressed dismay at the lack of progress on youth economic empowerment initiatives.
The youth league said that the rate of youth unemployment was disheartening.
Government should accelerate job creation and skills development programmes to help unemployed youth, Gigaba said.
With acknowledgements to Hopewell Radebe and the Business Day.