Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-30 Reporter: Sapa

Zuma : Put Up or Shut Up



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-30



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The National Directorate of Public Prosecutions urged Deputy President Jacob Zuma on Monday to present the Hefer Commission with evidence that Bulelani Ngcuka, head of the NDPP, was abusing his power.

"If Mr Zuma has any evidence of abuse and of ulterior motive, he is challenged to present such evidence to the Commission of Enquiry established by the President for this purpose," said acting NDPP spokesperson Rudolf Mastenbroek.

"Moreover, if he feels that his character has been impugned by anything done or said by the NDPP or the National Prosecuting Authority, he is challenged to exercise his legal rights as accorded under our constitutional democracy, and to institute defamation proceedings in a court of law."

President Thabo Mbeki has appointed Judge Joos Hefer, the former acting chief justice, to investigate allegations that Ngcuka was an apartheid spy.

The allegations surfaced after Ngcuka investigated Zuma for alleged corruption linked to the country's multi-billion rand arms deal and then declined to prosecute the Deputy President.

Zuma has maintained that the NDPP boss was abusing his power and authority. He said on Monday he was greatly shocked and disturbed by media reports of a meeting about two months ago between black editors and Ngcuka.

"According to reports of the secret meeting, the National Director allegedly discussed cases he was investigating and imparted to the editors and senior journalists, in a very malicious and despicable manner, untruthful information about me," Zuma said in a statement.

"He (Ngcuka) is also reported to have spoken about other individuals, the ANC and its Youth League. The briefing was clearly designed to entrench rumours and prejudice and to influence reporting and commentary on the cases.

"This conduct was in contravention of the confidentiality that is required in all investigations, in terms of the laws of the land," Zuma said.

Reacting to Zuma's statement, Mastenbroek said on Monday: "The National Director of Public Prosecutions is disappointment at the latest allegations levelled against him by the Deputy President.

"The so-called minutes of the meeting between the NDPP and certain editors not only appear to have been written by a person who did not attend the meeting, but they are also replete with distortions, inaccuracies and falsehoods.

"They do not warrant any of our further comment. In any event, by commenting any further we would place on record the contents of what was understood to be an off-the-record briefing."

Mastenbroek said there was absolutely nothing irregular, unethical or improper about the use of off-the-record briefings. They were held the world over to enable journalists to understand the context within which certain decisions were taken. It would be surprising if the Deputy President himself had not made use of such briefings.

"We strongly deny that we have sought to smear his reputation in any manner," Mastenbroek said.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Mail & Guardian.