Publication: Die Burger Issued: Date: 2004-07-25 Reporter: Willem Jordaan

Ngcuka : I Wasn't Pushed



Die Burger

Date 2004-07-25


Willem Jordaan

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Cape Town - National director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka denies that his sudden resignation was due to political pressure.

Ngcuka's request to President Thabo Mbeki to relieve him of his duties is nevertheless widely regarded as an indication that he threw in the towel in the ongoing political war that was unleashed with the Scorpions' corruption probe of deputy president Jacob Zuma.

Ngcuka's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said Ngcuka knew from the start that he would be under pressure, but this is not the reason for his resignation.

According to Ngwema, Ngcuka decided he had done his bit for the prosecuting authority and it was time to move on.

He emphasised, however, Ngcuka's resignation will not influence the prosecution of Zuma's financial advisor, Schabir Shaik.

Shaik faces corruption charges.

Ngcuka is considering "a variety of new career options", but Ngwema says he has not made a final decision.

Presidential spokesperson, Bheki Khumalo, said the president "took note" of Ngcuka's request to be relieved of his responsibilities. He is on leave, however, and will attend to Ngcuka's request "at an appropriate time".

In government circles, however, it has been said that the approval of Ngcuka's request is merely a formality.

While opposition parties attributed Ngcuka's resignation to political pressure, the news was met with a stony silence from the ANC's side.

Sheila Camerer, DA spokesperson for justice, said: "It is clear that Ngcuka finally buckled under enormous political pressure."

Patricia de Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats, also lamented Ngcuka's resignation.

"It is a sad day for the fight against corruption in South Africa," De Lille said. According to her Ngcuka is a victim of his own success.

Smuts Ngonyama, the ANC's head of communications, did not want to comment.

Ngcuka revealed his intentions to resign in an interview in December last year. He first wanted to discuss with his family the desirability to remain in a position that exposed him and his family to "criticism and assassination of character".

He says his wife, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, minister of minerals and energy, also suffered as a result of claims that he was an apartheid spy.

Ngcuka's decision to resign begs the question of succession. Who will crack the whip at the prosecuting authority during the high profile Shaik case?

It has been speculated for quite a while that Ngoako Ramathlodi, the former Limpopo premier, has a good chance to step into the position.

Khumalo did not want to comment about a possible successor.

With acknowledgements to Willem Jordaan and Die Burger.