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22 Oct 2003 15:53
President Thabo Mbeki was trying to “recapture lost ground” before next year’s election by telling religious leaders that there was no government corruption in the arms deal, the United Democratic Movement said on Wednesday.
UDM president Bantu Holomisa said in a statement that Mbeki was in a state of denial.
“He seems to be living in a state of denial if he can make such a claim whilst an independent structure of his government, the Scorpions, has said that it has prima facie evidence of corruption against Deputy President Zuma,” Holomisa said.
He added that it would not help to be “disingenuous” about the allegations against Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
“Religious leaders should ignore any such claim of propriety in the arms deal and dismiss it for the hogwash it is. The arms deal is a festering sore that should have been excised with a proper investigation.”
On Tuesday, Mbeki gave an assurance to religious leaders that there was no corruption in the government, with particular reference to the multimillion-rand arms deal.
“The message was that the government is not involved in any corruption,” National Religious Leaders Forum chairperson Aswhin Trikamjee told reporters in Pretoria.
“The president made it a point of assuring religious leaders that there is nothing wrong with the present government.”
Mbeki used a meeting of a presidential working group set up to promote interaction between the government and religious communities to dismiss the notion that there was a “big crisis” within the government over corruption.
“The religious leaders were very, very satisfied and extremely grateful to the president for having taken them into confidence in this whole debate.”
On the arms deal, he said Mbeki rejected claims of corruption involving the primary contract, in which the government was involved.—Sapa
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