Publication: Sapa Issued: Cape Town Date: 2004-10-25 Reporter: Sapa

Suspend Zuma, UDM Urges Mbeki





Cape Town

Date 2004-10-25




The United Democratic Movement has called on President Thabo Mbeki to suspend his deputy, Jacob Zuma, whereafter, it says, the National Prosecuting Authority should charge and prosecute Zuma.

In a statement on Monday, after a meeting of his party's national council in Pretoria at the weekend, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the council had noted the on-going trial of Zuma's financial adviser and friend, Durban businessman Schabir Shaik.

"The council calls upon President Mbeki, on the overwhelming balance of probabilities, to ask Mr Zuma to vacate his office."

This was because "the image of that office and of the country is on the line".

The National Prosecuting Authority should then charge and prosecute Zuma, "so that he has the opportunity to disprove the allegations against him before a court of law".

Holomisa made a further call on all UDM members who were also members of Cosatu-affiliated unions to question reported links between the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the Shaik group of companies.

Addressing his national council on Saturday, the UDM leader referred to an "ongoing spectre of corruption" hanging over South Africa.

Referring to Zuma in his speech, Holomisa said: "For him to continue to put his head in the sand and claim that the onus is on the state to prove he was in the pocket of Mr Shaik, is incorrect; it lies with him to take the public into his confidence and explain his actions.

"What the public and President Mbeki's Cabinet have to understand is that we are not just dealing with an ordinary employee, but with the image of the office of the deputy president, and the image of the country as a whole.

"The balance of probabilities is already enough for Mbeki to ask Zuma to recuse himself from office. Once he leaves office, the Scorpions will be free to charge him."

It was farcical to expect the prosecution authorities to pursue a serving deputy president.

"In the past, other politicians and government officials have been forced to take leave while they were investigated.

"However, in this case we fear that a bad precedent is being set, with ANC spin-doctors seemingly hell-bent on glorifying the deputy president, and sometimes even using state resources to this end."

Hardly a minute of evidence went by in the Shaik trial without Zuma being mentioned.

"Already, more disturbing details are emerging from the forensic audit. It seems increasingly dishonest to describe these transactions as loans, as Zuma has claimed to Parliament's ethics committee," Holomisa said.

With acknowledgement to Sapa.