The African National Congress said on Monday that its deputy president, Jacob Zuma, would be resuming his duties ”without delay” after he stepped down from active duty while his rape trial was under way.
Zuma was acquitted of rape in the Johannesburg High Court on May 8.
The party also poured cold water on suggestions that any member of the ANC encouraged the complainant in the rape case to lay a charge against Zuma.
In a statement released on Monday, the movement’s secretary general, Kgalema Motlanthe, said on behalf of the national executive committee (NEC) — which met on Sunday — that ”Comrade Zuma should resume his duties as ANC deputy president and his participation in the leading structures of the movement without delay”.
”The meeting was convened to consider a letter from ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma in which he indicated his readiness to resume his participation in the leading structures of the ANC after his acquittal last week on a charge of rape,” said the ANC statement.
”This follows a request made by deputy president Zuma to the organisation on December 6 2005, which was considered by an extended meeting of the ANC national working committee, that he suspend his participation in the leading structures of the movement for the duration of the rape trial.”
”The NEC once again welcomed the stance taken by the deputy president with respect to this matter, and his clear determination to act in the best interests of the ANC and the country. The national executive committee had an opportunity to reflect on some of the issues arising from and associated with the conduct of the trial.
The NEC statement said it had therefore agreed to affirm the approach of the movement on the following matters:
- ”The ANC accepts and respects without qualification the judgement in the rape trial of ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma. It further reiterates the statement issued by the alliance in calling on all South Africans to similarly respect and accept the outcome of due legal process.
- ”The ANC reaffirms its principled and unflinching support for the institutions of the democratic state, the rule of law, the principle of the presumption of innocence, and the constitutional right of all South Africans to be treated with respect and dignity.
- ”The ANC therefore condemns without reservation those statements and actions, particularly by members of the movement, which demonstrate a lack of respect for the rights and dignity of the complainant, the rights and dignity of the accused and the basic values of a progressive democratic society.
- ”The ANC remains at the forefront of the struggle to eradicate gender-based violence and abuse. It remains committed to intensify efforts across society to challenge gender inequality and sexism in all its forms and manifestations, to actively fight against the abuse of women, and to strengthen the capacity of our justice system to investigate and prosecute crimes of this nature.
- ”In the light of some of the commentary around aspects of the trial, the ANC wishes to confirm its support for government’s comprehensive response to HIV and Aids, including its unequivocal messages around prevention and safer sexual practices.
- ”The ANC finds that there is no basis to suggestions that any member of the ANC encouraged the complainant in the rape case to lay a charge against the ANC deputy president. Allegations against NEC member Ronnie Kasrils and former National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka in this regard are without substance.”
ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula said — in a statement released by spokesperson Zizi Kodwa last week — that ”we may conclude that there are indeed, a number of questionable issues, prompting many to question if the actions by the then accuser were entirely independent or influenced by political interests from people who wanted to destroy Comrade Jacob Zuma”.
The statement said that the league would further probe and satisfy itself about rumours that she was paid or bribed. ”In this context, we must probe whether there are no evil hands led by people such as ‘Malume‘ [uncle] Ronnie [Kasrils] and ‘Malume‘ Ngcuka.”
The ANC statement said the party’s NEC was fully conscious of the hurt and distress that the trial had caused to the individuals involved and their families, to the ANC and the democratic movement, and to society more broadly.
”This experience places a particular responsibility on the leadership and the membership of the democratic movement, and on society more broadly, to work to reinforce in practice the founding principles and values of our democratic society,” it said.
Discord in the ANC at ‘breaking point’
Discord in the ANC was at ”breaking point”, reported the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport — even as the Sunday Independent reported that Motlanthe had dismissed impressions of internal divisions over Zuma.
Rapport understood the ANC’s top six leaders hardly spoke to each other any more and that only two of them — treasurer general Mendi Msimang and deputy secretary general Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele — still supported Mbeki.