Thursday, January 05, 2006

ANC 'has thrown away moral compass'

Donwald Pressly | Cape Town, South Africa
05 January 2006 04:20

The decision to allow former deputy president Jacob Zuma to campaign for the ruling African National Congress in the upcoming local government poll is "deeply hypocritical", said the official opposition Democratic Alliance on Thursday.

It was reacting to a statement from ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe, who said Zuma would be allowed to campaign as a member of the ANC.

Acting DA leader Joe Seremane said on Thursday that Motlanthe's statement "confirms once again that the governing party has thrown away its moral compass".

Also on Thursday -- at a press conference concerning this weekend's launch of the ANC's local government election campaign on Sunday -- ANC deputy secretary general Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele said there was "no contradiction" between earlier statements about Zuma and "Comrade Jacob Zuma's participation in the local government election".

Although the position being taken about Zuma remains blurred, it is apparent that he can canvass and participate in campaigns -- but may not pronounce from a public podium.

Motlanthe was merely quoted as saying that Zuma would campaign under stringent conditions.

Meanwhile, Seremane said South African President Thabo Mbeki had stated previously that corruption in municipalities should be rooted out and had condemned the self-seeking spirit in the ANC.

"Given that Zuma is facing serious corruption charges, which have already cost him his position as deputy president [of South Africa], the decision to allow him to campaign is entirely hypocritical."

Motlanthe's announcement raises questions too about how seriously the ANC leadership regards the rape charge against Zuma and it casts doubt on the sincerity of the ruling movement's rhetoric on moral regeneration "and other such high-sounding posturing".

"Zuma's appearance on the campaign trail will only serve to remind voters of the moral decay that runs through the ANC, from its senior ranks down to its mayors and councillors. It will also promote a culture of tolerance toward corruption and maladministration in our country," said Seremane.

Zuma will be in court on February 13 -- just 10 days after Mbeki delivers his State of the Nation address at the opening of Parliament -- to defend himself against an allegation that he raped a 31-year-old woman in his Johannesburg home in November.

He will face two counts of corruption resulting from a finding by Durban High Court Judge Hilary Squires that he had a "generally corrupt relationship" with his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was found guilty of corruption last year.

Zuma's corruption trial begins on July 31.

Shortly after the his appearance in a magistrate's court on the rape charge last year, the national working committee of the ANC recommended to the national executive committee "that he should not act or pronounce in the capacity of deputy president of the ANC for the duration of this trial".

Zuma was dismissed as deputy president of South Africa in June last year, but remains the ruling movement's second-in-command. -- I-Net Bridge