Publication: Saturday Star Issued: Date: 2003-09-20 Reporter:

Probe a Sign of Mature Democracy, says Zuma



Saturday Star

Date 2003-09-20

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A day after being publicly defended in parliament, Deputy President Jacob Zuma has accelerated his come-back trail with a call to provinces to start democracy celebrations.

He also resumed his leadership of the moral regeneration campaign with a launch of the programme in the Eastern Cape.

An upbeat Zuma, who is clearly putting his most gruelling political test behind him, told MPs the Scorpions' corruption investigation into him was a sign of a mature South African democracy.

"It is only in a mature democracy where a deputy president of a country would be investigated, without any interference or attempt to stop the investigation by the government or the deputy president himself," Zuma said in his annual address to the national council of provinces yesterday.

'It has passed all the tests, which is another reason for us to celebrate' In his capacity as leader of government business he made a passionate call for warm-up celebrations celebrations to mark 10 years of democracy to start throughout the country.

He said Heritage day on Wednesday would be the ideal opportunity to kick off the celebrations.

Zuma,told premiers of seven of the nine provinces in Cape Town that South Africa's democracy has gone through many "trials and tribulations" in the first decade.

"One of these tests is the investigation of the deputy president by the national directorate of public prosecutions" (NDPP).

The deputy president emphasised that he had not interfered with the investigation, but "has taken appropriate steps within the law and his rights to seek redress regarding the outcome of the investigation", referring to his failed court application to be provided with a crucial piece of evidence.

Zuma was investigated by the NDPP on allegations of corruption in the government's multi-billion arms deal, and the fall-out around the decision not to prosecute him despite prima facie evidence caused a media sensation.

On Thursday, Mbeki also defended Zuma's suitability to continue as head of the government's moral regeneration campaign after the official opposition questioned it.

"The important outcome of this whole debacle is that our democracy has so far not been shaken by it. It has withstood the challenges because it is above individuals, and is rooted on very strong foundations", Zuma said.

Former Supreme Court of Appeal President Judge Josephus (Joos) Hefer will chair the one-man judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of spying made against super prosecutor Bulelani Ngcuka, President Thabo Mbeki has announced

Justice Minister Minister Penuell Maduna said that the commission's terms of reference are to "inquire into, report on, and make recommendations regarding whether at any stage prior to 1994, the National Director of Public Prosecutions was:

"registered with the security branch or any other security service of any pre-1994 government as an agent under the code name RS452 or any other code name; and

"acting as an agent for the security police and/or National Intelligence Service of any pre-1994 government.

Maduna made it clear that the commission would not inquire into the National Prosecuting authority or any of its divisions including the Scorpions.

Therefore its work should not affect the day to day activities of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Scorpions, Maduna said, making it clear that the ongoing investigations of alleged corruption in the multi-billion rand arms deal against senior ANC members would continue.

"I want to reiterate that, as the President informed the National Assembly yesterday (Thursday), Cabinet has full confidence" in Ngcuka, Maduna said.

Meanwhile the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions has welcomed the commission saying it will give their boss a chance to clear his name.

Sipho Ngwema, spokesperson for the NDPP said: "We are delighted. This at least grants him the opportunity to prove that these guys (those who made the spy allegations including former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj) are lying."

With acknowledgement to the Saturday Star.