Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-18 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

Mbeki Will Not Suspend Zuma



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-18


Donwald Pressly

Web Link


President Thabo Mbeki has emphasised in Parliament on Thursday that he will not suspend Deputy President Jacob Zuma as he is not a court and a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Responding to a written question in the National Assembly from Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, who asked if Mbeki had asked or intended asking Zuma to step down until corruption allegations against Zuma are refuted or he was exonerated, the president said: "We will not take any disciplinary action simply on the basis of allegations, whoever makes these allegations; we always act in respect of the rule of law."

Noting "the president is not a court of law", Mbeki emphasised that a person was presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He added that "not a single person in this country has produced any evidence that the defence procurement process was soiled by corruption of any kind".

He was responding to the ongoing debate around the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka not to charge Zuma although he had found prima facie evidence against him relating to corruption in the arms deal.

Responding on behalf of Leon, DA national chairperson Joe Seremane said that "the fact remains that the accusations against the deputy president ... have undermined the presidency."

Accusing the government of being quick to investigate the investigators (allegations of being an apartheid spy against Ngcuka are to be investigated by a judicial commission of inquiry), Seremane said the Cabinet had, nevertheless refused to set up a commission to look into the arms deal.

The president, who accused the DA of having its own political agenda and not wanting to find out the truth, said that the arms deal had already been probed by three state agencies "and I have the fullest confidence in all the state organs".

Mbeki also touched on the recent failed World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, Mexico, saying he hoped that the leaders of the developed world were aware that the stance taken at the trade negotiations was having a negative impact on billions of people around the world.

The president noted that the matter of the World Trade Organisation talks -- including agricultural subsidies by the developed world over which the talks broke down -- would be taken up by G23 countries of the developing world.

"The matter will be pursued."

"I would hope that the leaders of the developed world [would realise] the positions they are taking have a negative impact on billions of people around the globe."

"One hopes that they would be sensitive to that and not merely respond to political pressures or small constituencies in their countries."

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and the Mail & Guardain.