Zuma Back in ANC Fold
Free to reclaim party post
ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma can reclaim his position as deputy leader of his party in every respect and no longer hold the position in name only, if that is his wish.
This was the official word from ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe after Johannesburg High Court acquitted Zuma of a rape charge yesterday.
And this despite the fact that Zuma has a pending corruption trial.
Motlanthe told the Cape Times yesterday: "The deputy president, as you know, requested to be released from his obligations for the duration of the (rape) trial. Now that the trial is over - once he's ready - he can revert to us again."
Zuma could write to Motlanthe requesting that he be reinstated to his duties. He would in turn table it before the party's leadership.
The ANC's national working committee is scheduled to meet on Monday.
Motlanthe repeated that the ANC welcomed the court's decision.
Given accusations from Zuma's supporters that the rape trial was part of a conspiracy to deny him the future presidency of the party, Motlanthe was asked whether he believed the political fallout would damage the ANC even further. He has previously said the party faced one of its biggest crises since liberation.
"No. It is a specific trial and a determination was made by a court of law and that closes the matter on that route."
On whether this would not be raised, even within the ANC's own internal Stuart committee into the hoax e-mail saga, Motlanthe said: "No, that is a non-issue. There were allegations. There was a trial and a judge and court of law has reached a determination on the matter. Whatever anyone else may think on the matter is neither here nor there."
He did not believe the issue would be canvassed by the Stuart committee.
"I don't think that can be an issue at all," Motlanthe said.
Zuma's lawyer, Michael Hulley, said last night: "Obviously we are very happy with the outcome and relieved as well."
Meanwhile, the ANC Women's League, which has previously issued statements considered to be critical of Zuma and supportive of the complainant, issued a luke-warm statement yesterday.
"The ANCWL notes the judgment today in the Johannesburg High Court in which the deputy president of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma, was acquitted on the charge of rape. We respect and accept the finding of the court," said ANCWL president Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
She urged women not to be discouraged from reporting incidents of rape and abuse because of the verdict.
"The verdict shows that the values enshrined in the constitution, (whose) anniversary we are celebrating today, are being given effect to, and the institutions established by it are working."
The ANCWL acknowledged that by their very nature, rape trials posed a difficult challenge to the prosecution, the defence and the judge, Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said: "I'm sure he's a much diminished figure personally and morally, but he is, I think, much enhanced politically. I think that is the distinction.
I think it is going to give a huge amount of courage and vehemence to his supporters and it will hugely complicate whatever they are planning for the succession."
The "political dimension is unravelling before us", said Leon, who added that he believed this was simply one stage in a long process which would only be concluded when the ANC leadership's succession was resolved.
"Where I think the president of South Africa misled parliament was when he suggested last year that the discharge of Mr Zuma from his office as deputy president was having no effect on the governance of South Africa," Leon said.
The DA stated while it accepted the verdict, "Zuma has emerged with his credibility as a leader severely damaged ... he has demonstrated some of the worst aspects of patriarchy and sexism, in a most irresponsible manner.
"As a previous head of South Africa's Aids Council he has spread disinformation about combating HIV/Aids."
With acknowledgement to Angela Quintal and Cape Times.