Jacob Zuma has faced off calls to probe allegations of tender fraud by Julius Malema, saying he couldn't do so until he was given evidence.
President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday faced off calls to probe allegations of tender fraud by African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema, saying he could not do so until he was given evidence of wrongdoing.
“I don’t have the details of what happened with this tender. Is what is being alleged true?” he asked as opposition MPs, led by Congress of the People youth leader Anele Mda, demanded action on reports that Malema amassed a wealth of tenders.
“Certainly I will act where there is corruption, but certainly I will act with regard to the information before me. I think if there is information, concrete information on what has happened, I think let it come to government,” Zuma told the National Assembly during question time.
Zuma added that if there was a problem, he was sure the Limpopo government would “be dealing with it”.
He said the interministerial committee on corruption was looking at ways to improve the tender process, but added that problems did not stem from government policy but rather arose from contractors’ failure to comply with the rules.
“It must be noted, however, that the problem with tender fraud does not arise out of lack of transparency but from lack of compliance with otherwise transparent policies.”
Reports emerged last month that SGL Engineering Projects, which is co-owned by Malema, raked in at least R140-million in government tenders in Limpopo in the past two years.
Malema dismissed the reports as “lies” and claimed he resigned from the company two years ago. He is also under pressure for allegedly failing to pay tax.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa urged Zuma to ask Malema to produce his tax-clearance certificate.
The outspoken ANCYL leader’s lifestyle has come under further scrutiny since the Congress of South African Trade Unions called for lifestyle audits of politicians and senior government officials who seemed to live beyond their means.
Zuma rejected the call.
Plurality of views
Zuma also on Wednesday reiterated that a plurality of views on nationalisation was healthy and urged opposition politicians to debate the issue with Malema if they disagreed with him.
“We have dealt with this question very sufficiently that government policy is not nationalisation and this is what we have explained as well when we were in great Britain, and there is no confusion,” Zuma said in response to a question in the National Assembly.
Dion George from the Democratic Alliance asked Zuma what steps he would be taking to ensure that the economic message to investors on the part of the ANC and its partners is coherent and non-contradictory.
“The issue is very clear. That is why the response by the finance institutions to South Africa has been very positive,” Zuma responded.
“We separated in our last discussion the question of the policy and the issue of South Africans, whether they belong to the ANC Youth League or whoever, to raise their questions, their feelings about issues.
“Those who hold different views as you do, engage Julius Malema. Prove to him that he is wrong. He is talking in the media, you talk to the media as well.
“Engage him and engage the country to say Malema is wrong ... It is a public debate, debate with Julius Malema.”—Sapa