Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2003-09-05 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

'I Did Not Accuse Mbeki'




Date 2003-09-05


Donwald Pressly

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Cape Town - Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille says she has every right to continue to question any political figure - including President Thabo Mbeki - over any public matter including the arms deal.

De Lille was reacting to government communications chief Joel Netshitenzhe who said: "We are astounded at the ease with which she elected to question the integrity of the president".

De Lille argued earlier this week that Germany's bid to supply four corvettes reappeared inexplicably on the short list after Mbeki visited that country when he was still deputy president in 1995.

At a press conference on Friday De Lille said she had "every right as political leader of the Independent Democrats and an elected representative to question any political figure in this country."

She would continue to ask questions about why the tender procedure changed, leading to Germany's Thyssen - which had submitted a more expensive bid - becoming the winning bidder.

"For the record, I did not accuse President Mbeki of any wrong-doing and I have repeatedly communicated this to the press over the past two days. Let it also be categorically stated that I am not acting on and never have been approached to act on behalf of unsuccessful bidders in the arms deal."

Asked if she was suggesting that Mbeki had acted in a manner which was possibly untoward, she said: "If it is not so, he must prove to us otherwise."

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and News24.