Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-02 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

Camerer : 'Mbeki, Zuma Dodging the Issue'



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-02


Donwald Pressly

Web Link


Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi is acting president of South Africa while both President Thabo Mbeki and his deputy Jacob Zuma are abroad.

Speaking from Malaysia where Mbeki is on an official visit, presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said: "Minister Buthelezi is acting president until the president returns [to South Africa] on Wednesday."

He said Buthelezi had become the acting president on Sunday.

Buthelezi, who is leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, is the most senior minister and has acted as president on a number of occasions during the absence of both the president and deputy president.

Deputy President Zuma is at a desertification conference in Havana with Environment Minister Mohammed Valli Moosa.

Meanwhile, in a statement official opposition Democratic Alliance justice spokesperson Sheila Camerer said President Mbeki and Deputy President Zuma "appear to be dodging the pressing issue of alleged corruption by absenting themselves from the country".

"They are using the political bolt-holes of Malaysia and Cuba to evade the issue of the deputy president's status and the charges against Shabir Shaik, to which Zuma seems inextricably linked."

"To make matters worse, after about ten phone calls to the Office of the Presidency this morning, it was not possible to establish who is the acting president during their absence," charged Camerer.

However, INet Bridge immediately received an answer on Monday.

Camerer said Zuma was originally scheduled to attend the Moral Regeneration Choral Music Festival organised by the Department of Arts and Culture and Ingoma Music Choral on Sunday.

But an altered diary was released on August 19 -- the day after Zuma's alleged role in the arms deal again hit the headlines with businessman Cyril Ramaphosa's reported intervention -- stating that he would instead be going to Cuba, said Camerer.

She said Moosa was initially scheduled to lead the South African delegation to the United Nations conference on desertification in Cuba.

"This would have been quite appropriate, as it falls neatly into his portfolio. Why did the deputy president need to attend this conference, except to escape the growing controversy back home?"

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and the Mail and Guardian.