Publication: Issued: Date: 2003-09-12 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

Mbeki has Right to Silence on Zuma



Date 2003-09-12


Donwald Pressly

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Justice Minister Penuell Maduna says South African President Thabo Mbeki had every right to remain silent on the controversy surrounding Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

At a media briefing at Parliament on Thursday, the justice minister responded to repeated questioning about Mbeki's silence by saying that the deputy president had not been charged - for alleged corruption relating to the arms deal - and there was "nothing to reflect on".

He was commenting on the recent decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka not to charge the deputy president although he said there was prima facie evidence to do so.

Asked if the ANC government was setting a precedent by not suspending leaders - such as Zuma - until they were proven guilty by a court, he said it was different to the case where a former Welfare Minister was charged with misusing pension funds. He was suspended before being found guilty by a court.

Zuma, Maduna pointed out, had not been charged by any court.

Asked about the story that he had expressed strong feelings about the matter in cabinet and had threatened to resign, he said rhetorically: "Did I threaten to resign?" He said if such a remark came up in court it would be regarded as "complete hearsay".

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and