Zuma takes issue with NPA

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma on Friday accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of abusing its powers and violating his rights in its push to prosecute him on fraud and corruption charges.

Speaking during a live televised media conference in Johannesburg, two days after the Pietermaritzburg High Court struck the corruption and bribery case against him off its roll, he said the NPA, through leaks to the media, had created a “culture of Zuma-bashing”.

“It is now well known that the investigation and campaign against me was supported by regular leaks of information to the media, and intense lobbying of the media for support,” he said.

“Through this, they created a culture of Zuma-bashing.”

It was unfortunate that despite his readiness to clear his name, the NPA had failed to make its case.

“Why was I not taken to court? Why was I not charged with Schabir [Shaik]? I would have been happier. This matter would have been over years ago,” he said.

“Questions will always remain why there was such passion, an urgency to take me to court when there was no evidence,” Zuma said.

On statements by the NPA that Wednesday’s high court decision was temporary and technical in nature, Zuma said: “I fail to see the technical aspects to which they allude.”

To label the ruling as technical was being “economical with the truth”.

“The statement by the NPA that it will reinstate the prosecution against me at the appropriate time displays an arrogance misplaced in such an important institution of state.

“One must be reminded that the NPA has no intention of proceeding against me on the original charges … how then does one appreciate their determination to [proceed] on charges still to be investigated and properly formulated.

“The inference must be that such investigations are designed to lead to a prosecution instead of a determination of the truth,” he said.

Zuma also said he was “deeply concerned” over the media’s reporting of his case, which had focused on a “presidential race”.

Zuma plays down presidential race

Zuma told the media that there was no presidential race in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and his actions should not be judged from the perspective that he was a candidate.

He asked for the media to leave him space to carry out his work.

Zuma also questioned the motives of the campaign against him, singling out former prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka for holding secret meetings with editors in which his integrity had been questioned and allegations made about him.

The former deputy president — who was dismissed by President Thabo Mbeki last year amid allegations about him — said he had not taken any bribe.

He also said that he would not be taking any action against parties which he alleged had vilified him.

Asked repeatedly if he wanted to be president, he said: “There is no such thing as a presidential race in the [ruling] ANC.”

“No one campaigns” to be a presidential candidate, Zuma said. He said that they would elect the president of that organisation “at the right time”.

When asked if his support was real or artificial, Zuma replied that this was an academic issue: “People sleeping outside in the rain are not artificial,” he said.

“How can I do a survey on whether my support is genuine or not … I’ve worked with the people, I know them and they know me … I come from them, I was one of them, I was a worker. I’ve been everything you can think of … I come from a poor background and they know it.

“My staying in politics has contributed to the liberation of South Africa. And my stay will make South Africa continue to prosper,” he said.

Zuma also said that people in South Africa were saying different things to what the analysts were saying.

He would continue to serve the ruling party — which he said hoped would stay in power for a long time — and perform duties wherever deployed.

“I request commentators to provide me with the space to perform these tasks without actions being analysed against the background of the media’s perceived presidential campaign.”

When asked if he will accept the nomination and take the job at the ANC congress in December 2007 should the ANC deploy or nominate him as president, Zuma laughed and told the Mail & Guardian Online: “I’ll deal with the issue as it comes.”

Asked about Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s call for him not to run for president, the ANC deputy president said: “The honourable archbishop was commenting on an issue which does not exist. For the bishop to say pull out of the race, I don’t know what race.”

Asked about being reinstated as deputy president, he said this was not his prerogative. He also said “I could want to be a millionaire … why would I want to be deputy president [of the country]?”

He said policies of the ANC belonged to party, not to an individual. He argued in general terms that the appointments were secondary to the implementation of the policies of the ANC.

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