Cosatu attacks M&G’s Zuma report

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has distanced itself from a Mail & Guardian report that Jacob Zuma confessed to senior trade union and communist leaders that he had sex with the woman he is reportedly alleged to have raped.

Cosatu also denied being part of a reported meeting at Zuma’s Nkandla home, where it was agreed he would not resign before Cosatu’s 20th birthday celebrations, which he was scheduled to address.

”We condemn particularly the downright lie that the Cosatu president [Willie Madisha] and general secretary [Zwelinzima Vavi] had a meeting with the ANC [African National Congress] deputy president [Zuma], at which he said he had consensual sex, but [had] not committed rape,” Cosatu said.

”Neither Cosatu, nor any of its leaders were ever part of any meeting, at Nkandla or anywhere else, where it was agreed — as suggested in the Mail & Guardian — that the ANC deputy president should not resign from his position until after the 20th anniversary celebrations of Cosatu [on Sunday].

”If, indeed, there are people within the federation who are his genuine sources (which we doubt) it would be clear case of charlatans hell-bent on destroying the very movement they claim to lead.

”The journalist concerned was either creating a story in order to increase the sales of the Mail & Guardian, or was conniving with ‘faceless charlatans’ to damage the federation and Zuma,” Cosatu concluded.

The South African Communist Party joined Cosatu in blasting the M&G‘s report.

”The SACP is disturbed and disgusted by the speculative and extremely sensational reporting by the Mail & Guardian. The reported meeting neither took place, nor was it ever planned by the mentioned leadership.

”As the SACP, we are getting worried about the manner in which the media is reporting on issues affecting our alliance and particularly the alliance leadership,” it said.

It accused the media of ”playing cheap, factional and divisive politics”.

M&G editor Ferial Haffajee responded on Friday afternoon: ”We’ve gone back to our sources, who confirmed the story. We believe that in these trying times a Cosatu statement is part of the damage-control exercise.

”We stand by our story. The M&G has no reason to fabricate or sensationalise.”

Troubled Zuma

It has been reported that Zuma faces a complaint of rape, made by a friend of the family, and that the matter has been forwarded by police to the National Prosecuting Authority for consideration on how to proceed.

Zuma, who has also been indicted on corruption charges, believes there is a conspiracy against him. He has received support from Cosatu on the corruption charges, but the union body has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the rape complaint.

According to the M&G report, Zuma decided not resign after a meeting with Vavi, Madisha and the South African Communist Party’s Blade Nzimande.

He was also reported to have told the alliance leaders that the woman was his girlfriend and that everybody in the family knew about the relationship.

He is understood to be pinning his legal hopes on family members to testify in court that he had an established relationship with the woman.

However, observers said that even if the sex was consensual, from a moral point of view Zuma would still be wrong to have slept with someone who regarded him as a father figure.

The M&G was unable to get a comment from the alleged victim, who has been in hiding since the rape allegations became public, but a close friend who asked not to be named vehemently denied claims that Zuma had a sexual relationship with the woman.

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