Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2004-10-19 Reporter: Sapa

DA Exploiting Sanctity of Assembly : Pahad






Date 2004-10-19


Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad accused the Democratic Alliance on Tuesday of exploiting the sanctity of the National Assembly for its own purposes.

He was responding to DA MP and justice spokeswoman Sheila Camerer, who questioned Cabinet's criticism of media sensationalism around the Schabir Shaik court case, currently underway in Durban.

Speaking in the Assembly, Camerer said while the DA agreed with presiding Judge Hillary Squires that the media should respect the sub judice rule, it would be almost impossible for the media not to report and comment on allegations about Deputy President Jacob Zuma as they emerged during evidence in the Shaik case.

"To quote Hamlet, the deputy president is clearly the ghost at this particular media feast.

"His name appears all over the charge sheet and not an hour of court proceedings goes by without his name being mentioned in evidence about Mr Shaik's dealings -- either in allegations that he was bribed or that he peddled influence," she said.

The fact that Zuma was not charged in spite of the prima facie case against him, "which seems to grow with each day of evidence, will surely go down as one of the great puzzles in the annals of our prosecution service".

Zuma had remedies, and if he was innocent of any wrongdoing he should sue the National Prosecuting Authority and media for defamation.

"For the Cabinet to take a legalistic approach to the deputy president's guilt or otherwise is not helpful. They should be more concerned with the damage to the government's integrity and with applying a code of conduct to members of government and a commitment to transparency and accountability," Camerer said.

Replying to her, Pahad said it was quite surprising that Camerer "once again exploits the sanctity of this House to carry out what has been going on for some time -- trial by the media, which I think they perpetuated themselves and initiated themselves".

The DA spoke about issues, such as free trial and being innocent until proven guilty.

"And here they come and use every opportunity to insinuate that the trial that's taking place... has definitely got something to do with the deputy president.

"They don't purport to give us any facts, any information, and I think it's a dangerous lot of rubbish that they continue to carry out (and) it must stop," Pahad said.

With acknowledgement to Sapa.