Publication: Pretoria News Issued: Date: 2003-09-18 Reporter: Christelle Terreblanche

Is Zuma Being Hung Out to Dry?



Pretoria News

Date 2003-09-18


Christelle Terreblanche

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As parliament waits with bated breath for President Thabo Mbeki to say something about Deputy President Jacob Zuma's alleged involvement in the arms deal corruption, Bulelani Ngcuka has moved to reassure his staff that he is no spy.

Ngcuka, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) told his staff on Thursday that he was not, as reported in a Sunday newspaper, an apartheid spy. The claim was repeated by former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj and now again aired by Mo Shaik, a special adviser to the Foreign Minister and brother of businessman Shabir Shaik, who the Scorpions are prosecuting in connection with alleged arms deal corruption and fraud.

Mbeki, who has so far refused to comment on Ngcuka or the allegations against Zuma, is expected to break his silence on Thursday when he answers questions in parliament.

Opposition leader Tony Leon wants to know whether Mbeki intends relieving Zuma of responsibility of leading the moral regeneration campaign and whether he should be asked to step down until the allegations against him have been refuted.

Cabinet has appointed a committee to probe the allegations against Ngcuka, while it is understood that other arms of the state are investigating the frequent leaks that have occurred as the saga unfolded. This included a leak from a cabinet meeting where Justice Minister Penuell Maduna allegedly threatened to resign over the issue.

Confirming that Ngcuka met his staff on Thursday to reassure them and boost their morale, his spokesperson Sipho Ngwema nevertheless played down the meeting. Ngwema said this was part of a range of meetings designed for better internal communication.

Wednesday's meeting followed a Scorpions investigation into the government's multi-billion rand arms deal and Ngcuka's decision not to prosecute Zuma despite saying he had prima facie evidence of corruption.

Ngwema said Ngcuka's lawyers were still working on the defamation suits Ngcuka intends bringing against the newspaper and Maharaj for claiming he was a spy.

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Douglas Gibson on Wednesday asked the Public Protector to reconsider his decision not to investigate the alleged breach by Zuma of the code of conduct for members of the executive. It is alleged that Zuma did not declare payments totalling more than R1-million over a period of five years.

Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana said he would only consider an investigation after parliament's ethics committee has concluded its own investigation.

Zuma will be on a visit to the Netherlands and Spain from Sunday. While in the Netherlands, he and his delegation will meet representatives from legal institutions like the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the Hague Convention on International Private Law.

Zuma will be accompanied by Maduna and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad on the first leg of his trip. Pahad, Intelligence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks will accompany him to Spain.

With acknowledgements to Christelle Terreblanche and the Pretoria News.