Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2006-11-15 Reporter: Sapa Reporter:

ANC Backs Mbeki's Decision to Fire Zuma as Deputy President 



Cape Times





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Johannesburg : The decision to fire Jacob Zuma as the country's deputy president was correct, the African National Congress said yesterday.

"The ANC accepts and supports the decision of President Thabo Mbeki to release Deputy President Jacob Zuma from his duties in government following due consideration of the ruling in the Shaik trial," said ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe.

He said the ANC had noted the comments by Judge Hilary Squires regarding the incorrect attribution to him of the phrase "a generally corrupt relationship" relating to the relationship between businessman Schabir Shaik and ANC deputy president Zuma.

Squires jailed Shaik for 15 years after convicting him of corruption and fraud, a ruling upheld on appeal last week.

"This issue once again highlights the need for all members of society to respect the judiciary and pay due attention to its rulings," said Motlanthe.

"It should strengthen our collective resolve to uphold and defend important judicial principles, including equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, and the right of appeal."

He said the experience reinforced the ANC's previously-stated positions, including respect for the judiciary and support for Zuma's dismissal.

Motlanthe said Squires' comments "should prompt reflection and critical self-examination among the media, commentators and others involved in disseminating information" and that judicial decisions should be accurately represented.

Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) said yesterday it was too late for Judge Squires to distance himself from the "generally corrupt relations" phrase as Zuma's name was already ruined.

"Hilary is not assisting anyone with distancing himself from the phrase 'generally corrupt'. He's deepening the legal crisis," ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula told journalists.

Squires had denied using the phrase "generally corrupt" when describing the relationship between fraudster Shaik and Zuma.

"It is a matter of fact that Jacob Zuma had not appeared in court at the time Judge Squires issued his verdict against Schabir Shaik and therefore (he) could have never been found guilty in absentia," an ANCYL statement said.

It refused to apologise to Squires because they said there was still a "rampant" reference to Zuma in Squires' judgment handed down to Shaik last year.

Mbalula said the "generally corrupt" phrase had been used for the past 17 months to describe Zuma and Shaik's relationship and because of the phrase, Zuma would never have a fair trial.

He stated that until one went to a court of law, a person was innocent and judges should not be manipulated and involve themselves in politics.

"If justice has to be a winner, it has to be underpinned by fairness …," he said.

ANCYL said Judge Squires had done an honourable thing by clarifying his judgment.

On Monday, after Squires distanced himself from the phrase, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) said it erred in ascribing the phrase to Squires, but added this did not feature in its judgment in Shaik's criminal appeal.

The SCA said the court's "misattribution" of the phrase "generally corrupt relationship" occurred only once in its judgment last week.

Cosatu apologised to Squires for comments made about his judgment, saying they were based on "false media reports which put these words into his mouth".

The National Prosecuting Authority said Squires' denial had no legal implications.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Cape Times.