Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-07-26 Reporter: Rob Rose

Ngcuka a Victim of ANC Strife



Business Day

Date 2004-07-26


Rob Rose

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Prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka's move at the weekend to call it a day has fuelled calls for President Thabo Mbeki to look beyond the African National Congress (ANC) for a successor, amid perceptions that Ngcuka was a casualty of power politics in the ruling party.

Ngcuka's move has also raised questions about the future of several high-profile cases related to SA's arms deal, including the probe into whether Deputy President Jacob Zuma sought a bribe from a French arms supplier.

After a bruising two-year battle, in which Ngcuka's office met stiff resistance when it investigated corruption allegations against Zuma, Ngcuka put in a request to Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla to be relieved of his duties.

Analysts said it remains to be seen whether there would be any shift in emphasis and style by Ngcuka's successor, particularly in the upcoming trial of Zuma's financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

Sheila Camerer, Democratic Alliance justice spokeswoman, said yesterday that if the Shaik case "suddenly fades away or dissolves into a plea bargain on the minor charges, it will have grave implications for the rule of law".

Although Ngcuka's office yesterday denied that there was any political pressure on him to quit, following the public skirmish over the Zuma probe, opposition parties said it was inevitable that a party member such as Ngcuka would have felt pressure from certain party factions.

Camerer called on the ANC to appoint someone from outside the party's ranks, in the hope that they would not be susceptible to political pressure.

"The best solution would be to look outside the top party ranks for someone who is assured of doing his job impartially without fear or favour," she said.

Camerer said that considering both Ngcuka and public protector Lawrence Mushwana were highprofile ANC members, they were almost "set up for failure" by their elevation to key watchdog roles.

However, Inkatha Freedom Party national spokesman Musa Zondi said: " I think that practically the ANC is likely to pick one of its own for this position."

ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama would not be drawn on the matter, saying the party did not want to pre-empt the president's decision.

With acknowledgements to Rob Rose and the Business Day.