Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2003-09-19 Reporter: Donwald Pressly

Zuma Speaks Out On Probe




Date 2003-09-19


Donwald Pressly

Web Link


Cape Town - Deputy president Jacob Zuma says he has not interfered with the investigation into alleged corruption against him as all people in the country are equal before the law.

Speaking in the national council of provinces on Friday, Zuma said: "It is only in a mature democracy where a deputy president of a country would be investigated, without any interference or attempt to stop the investigation by the government or the deputy president himself."

Zuma was referring to a probe of allegations of taking a bribe related to the arms deal during which the national director of public prosecutions opted not to charge him, although he said there was prima facie evidence against Zuma.

However, the deputy president gave low marks to the media and to opposition parties for the way they had handled the issue.

Speaking to members of parliament - which on Friday included Northern Cape Premier Manne Dipico, Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile and North West Premier Popo Molefe - he said: "Our democracy has gone through a lot of trials and tribulations in the first decade. It has passed all the tests."

"One of these tests is the investigation of the deputy president by the national directorate of public prosecutions."

"This test has indicated the extent to which our democracy has deepened, and how, contrary to the views of so-called opinion makers who are saying the investigation has weakened democracy, it has actually proven how strong and mature our democracy has become."

"In some established democracies, high office is protected and incumbents are granted immunity. In our country, all are equal before the law.

"We have never questioned these principles; we respect them and abide by them."

Speaking in the third person he said: "The deputy president has not interfered with the investigation, and has taken appropriate steps within the law and his rights to seek redress regarding the outcome of the investigation."

He said the investigation had been a test for other institutions as well. It tested the maturity of state organs responsible for investigations and the potential and capacity for the abuse of power by individuals in these institutions.

Zuma said it also had been a critical test for the media.

"The media is supposed to be an independent watchdog, which does not and should not take sides in any conflict, but seek to provide the public with information to allow them to make up their own minds."

"A professional media is supposed to remain true to the ethics of objectivity, fairness and balance and be open to all sides of the story."

He said the investigation had left many questions as to whether the media remained true to these noble ethics, or whether it took a firm position to vigorously support one party to the full, to further mutual agendas.

Zuma added that the investigation "has also been a test for political parties, the extent to which they are prepared to assist the democratic process constructively or whether they choose to become 'sound-bite specialists', swallowing any lead that they are given, to get media mileage".

But, he gave top marks to the government: "This government should also be congratulated for adhering to democratic principles and not being tempted to abuse power."

With acknowledgements to Donwald Pressly and News24.