The African National Congress and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have responded to claims made by cleric Allan Boesak on Wednesday at a media conference at which he gave his reasons for not participating in this week’s 20th anniversary celebrations of the United Democratic Front.
Boesak accused the African National Congress, which is organising the celebrations, of ostracising him after his year in jail for theft of donor funds. Nor had it met its ”commitment” to accept collective reponsibility for what happened with the money.
Boesak also said that if he had taken the stand in his own defence in his year 2000 trial, Tutu could also have ended up facing criminal charges, alleging inappropriate allocation of funds during their terms of office at the South African Council of Churches (SACC).
Tutu was ”taken by surprise” by Boesak’s remarks today, read a statement from the archbishop.
Tutu said the Eloff Commission, established in 1982 by PW Botha to investigate the financial circumstances of the SACC, found no evidence of any financial mismanagement. He would welcome further investigations in this regard.
”I do hope that Boesak’s remarks do not detract from today’s celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the birth of the UDF. Our country is extremely indebted to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary South Africans who marched under the banner of the UDF for our freedom,” he said.
The ANC response reads: ”It is rather unfortunate that Dr Boesak has chosen not to accept a sincere acknowledgement on the part of the ANC, of his role as a leader of the UDF and the role he has played in the liberation struggle of South Africa. The ANC has never abandoned Dr Boesak and had, in the past, continually expressed its support to him and his family at a time when a dark cloud hovered over his head.
”Many leaders of the ANC visited him a number of times while he was incarcerated. It is a sad turn of events that today, the ANC is being accused of taking the high road when one of its most dedicated cadres was languishing in jail.
”The ANC remains firm in its commitment to a fair and just criminal justice system, and has consistently stated that it will not and cannot interfere in due processes. We have said that then, we are still saying that now. Any suggestion that the ANC should have intervened in Dr Boesak’s trial to subvert the justice system is mischievous and wrong.
”It is our considered view that Dr Boesak’s name will go down in history as one of the champions of our struggle, who contributed immensely to the liberation struggle. It is also unfortunate that Dr Boesak has chosen to express his feelings in public and not come and meet leaders of the ANC to express his frustration, and he is in contact with a number of ANC leaders. We are therefore surprised and disappointed that he has chosen to take this route in expressing his frustration.
”We believe that the fact that Dr Boesak has not received a response in a matter of his presidential pardon cannot be a result of a deliberate disregard of such an application. After all, the state is by law required to make a decision on every pardon application the president receives.
”The public needs to understand that the pardon process is subject to a complex and tedious administrative process that involves the Department and Ministry of Justice before the president is required to apply his mind to such an application. People therefore cannot take exception to such delays without making proper follow-ups to the relevant authorities.
”Dr Boesak is still a member of the ANC who knows and understands how ANC structures function. He should therefore come to the ANC to
discuss these issues like any other member of the ANC.” — Sapa