Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-09 Reporter: Wyndham Hartley

DA Wants MPs to Quiz Ngcuka on Zuma Probe



Business Day

Date 2003-09-09


Wyndham Hartley

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Committee chairman weighs request

Parliament's justice committee chairman, Johnny de Lange, is considering a Democratic Alliance (DA) request to summon Justice Minister Penuell Maduna and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka to brief it on the decision not to prosecute Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

The controversy around allegations of soliciting a bribe in connection with the arms deal against Zuma deepened when Ngcuka publicly announced that he had a prima facie case against Zuma but would not prosecute him. Zuma has since gone to court to get papers from Ngcuka backing this allegation.

Yesterday DA MP Sheila Camerer announced that she had requested De Lange to call Maduna and Ngcuka to brief the committee on the decision not to prosecute Zuma and on the other court cases arising out of the allegations against the deputy president and his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik.

De Lange said that while the DA request appeared to be an attempt to play politics around the Zuma issue in the justice committee, he would "look into it carefully and consult widely on what course of action the committee should follow".

He stressed that the DA was asking the committee to get involved in an issue which was before the courts and that the committee could become a forum for the wide variety of views on the matter.

He said there were other avenues MPs could use to probe matters such as these. These included asking questions of ministers or calling for an urgent debate on matters of public interest.

Camerer said: "Parliament should therefore inquire from Maduna and Ngcuka why the latter failed to prosecute Zuma, thereby leaving Ngcuka and the prosecuting authority open to legal action from Zuma and what further steps, if any, are contemplated by the authority."

Complaints from Ngcuka to Parliament that more than R1m in gifts was not declared by Zuma in his declaration of members interests is also likely to gain momentum this week in the ethics committee.

It is expected that Zuma will argue that the money was a loan, which apparently does not have to be declared in the register.

Meanwhile, Ngcuka said yesterday that he intended suing former transport minister Mac Maharaj over allegations that he was an apartheid-era spy.

Ngcuka said he intended claiming damages for defamation from City Press, which carried a report making the same allegation at the weekend.

The amount to be claimed for defamation had not yet been determined, said Ngcuka's spokesman, Sipho Ngwema.

With acknowledgements to Wyndham Hartley and Business Day.