Publication: Pretoria News Issued: Date: 2003-09-16 Reporter: John Battersby, Andre Koopman, Zelda Venter

Is Zuma Being Hung Out to Dry?



Pretoria News

Date 2003-09-16


John Battersby, Andre Koopman, Zelda Venter

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In what amounts to a triple blow for Deputy President Jacob Zuma in his efforts to clear his name, the government and the ANC moved on Monday to limit the fallout from an escalating political dog-fight around the Scorpions' suspended investigation into Zuma and his alleged role in the multi-billion rand arms deal scandal.

In a day of high drama :

The Pretoria High Court dismissed with costs Zuma's urgent application to obtain the original hand-written encrypted French version of a letter sent by facsimile which allegedly implicated Zuma in soliciting a R500 000 bribe from an arms company in return for using his political influence to secure a contract. The judge said there was no reason for the application to be urgent, which means that it will be put on the normal court roll which could take six months or more to be heard.

The government on Monday convened the first sitting of a cabinet committee announced by Justice Minister Penuell Maduna last week which he said would consider the allegations made by ANC veteran Mac Maharaj that National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy. It is not clear whether the committee will also consider the implications of the allegations against Zuma.

The ANC, after an all-weekend meeting of its national executive committee, made it clear that there would be no investigation by the ANC into allegations of spying made against Ngcuka.

The ANC said that government was best-placed to probe the spy allegations while the Scorpions and appropriate instruments of the judicial process would continue to probe alleged corruption in relation to the secondary contracts in the multi-billion rand arms deal.

The rapid convening of the cabinet committee indicates that government wants to move swiftly to clear Ngcuka's name and to protect the reputation of both the position of National Director of Prosecutions and the Scorpions investigation unit.

The ANC statement also indicates that the ruling party does not intend any action either to support Zuma, deal with the cloud hanging over him or clear or implicate Ngcuka of spy allegations.

Both the government action in convening the cabinet committee and the ANC statement indicating that the ruling party would not get involved in the spy allegations, are a clear signal that Zuma is being hung out to dry politically and will have to fight his own crusade to clear his name, after Ngcuka found there was prima facie evidence of corruption against him but halted the probe because he could not be certain of a prosecution.

With acknowledgements to John Battersby, Andre Koopman, Zelda Venter and the Pretoria News.