UDM Calls for Zuma's Removal from Office as Shaik Trial Unfolds
United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa has called on Deputy President Jacob Zuma to remove himself from office following embarrassing disclosures at the trial of his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, about his alleged efforts to solicit a bribe from the French arms company now called Thales.
This is another attempt by the opposition to convince President Thabo Mbeki that the pall of corruption hanging over the office of the deputy president is damaging the image of the country.
Holomisa said it was unfortunate that the African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance partners seemed to be suggesting that "irrespective of the outcome of Shaik's trial" Zuma would be the next president.
"That statement alone displays a disturbing arrogance," Holomisa said.
Zuma's suspension, he said, would enable the National Prosecuting Authority to charge him, giving Zuma the opportunity to prove his innocence in court.
Holomisa made the call at the UDM's national council in Johannesburg, the first since the elections this year.
Holomisa said Zuma no longer had the luxury of calling the allegation that he solicited a bribe "mere speculation", as the evidence being led at the Shaik trial was damning.
"He cannot 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. It lies with him to take the public into his confidence and explain his actions," he said.
The UDM's council also called for amendments to the electoral system to reflect "greater accountability to the voters".
The party resolved to campaign for electoral reform so that the election of the president of SA could take place in the public domain instead of being confined to the ruling party's elite.
Holomisa condemned the floor-crossing exercise, in which his party was one of the biggest losers when most of its councillors opted to join the ANC.
South Africans needed to review the electoral system, which encouraged politicians to be accountable to their party not the voters.
He said the UDM was pursuing councillors who had defected but still owed the party money for funding their election campaigns.
With acknowledgements to Hopewell Radebe and the Business Day.