Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2006-05-15 Reporter: Moshoeshoe Monare

Zuma Gets His Job Back



Cape Argus




Moshoeshoe Monare 

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A week after his acquittal on a rape charge, Jacob Zuma has been reinstated as deputy president of the ANC. The ANC's highest decision-making body last night endorsed Zuma's request to resume all his duties as the party's deputy leader.

After much debate about the impact of the case on the moral image of the organisation, the National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed to unconditionally reinstate Zuma with immediate effect.

Zuma did not attend the three-hour meeting in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.

Some NEC members asked the meeting to consider the moral consequences of the case and Zuma's remarks in his defence.

However, there was a general consensus that Zuma should resume his party functions, including those with the NEC.

Instead of healing the crisis-ridden organisation, the decision is set to intensify internal animosities as the succession battle takes its toll on the ruling party.

Zuma and his supporters believe the acquittal proves the existence of a political conspiracy to frustrate Zuma's ambitions of succeeding President Thabo Mbeki.

Shortly after the Johannesburg High Court cleared him of raping a 31-year old HIV-positive woman, Zuma sent a request to the organisation's secretary-general, Kgalema Motlanthe, that he be allowed to resume his duties.

Zuma had asked to be recused when he was charged with rape last December, but said his decision to withdraw from active participation would not affect his position as deputy president.

However, an extended national working committee was convened at which it was decided to remove Zuma from his role of deputy president. He was also banned from speaking at or attending meetings without permission from Motlanthe's office.

It was believed Motlanthe had advised Zuma against attending yesterday's meeting to avoid any confrontations.

Before the meeting, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party made a joint statement with the ANC.

Zuma's ardent supporters, the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League, were adamant that he had to be reinstated unconditionally.

Ironically, the ANC Women's League also called for his reinstatement. Spokeswoman Charlotte Lobe said: "Mr Zuma was not found guilty of rape or any sexual assault."

She said that while the league remained conscious of the fact that Zuma faced a corruption trial in July, "in our eyes he remains innocent until proven otherwise".

Shortly after Zuma was charged with rape, the league made a scathing statement.

"We are saddened by the fact that this incident implicates a leader that people have put confidence and trust in, and who has had the responsibility of leading the Moral Regeneration Movement, was convener of the South African National Aids Council and also Deputy President of the ANC," the statement read.

The MK Veterans Association, which came out in support of Zuma at last winter's national general council, has called for the organisation's national conference, scheduled for late next year, to be brought forward to deal with the crisis facing the ruling party.

With acknowledgement to Moshoeshoe Monare and Cape Argus.