/ 26 November 2007

ANC decries ‘blatant untruths’ about Mbeki

The African National Congress (ANC) parliamentary caucus has dismissed ”malicious” media reports alleging that President Thabo Mbeki used a caucus meeting last week to launch a veiled attack on ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma.

”At no time did he ever refer to comrade Jacob Zuma,” ANC chief whip Isaac Mogase and caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor said in a joint statement on Monday.

Contrary to media reports, in his November 20 address to caucus Mbeki had merely reminded members of remarks made to the caucus during a memorial meeting the previous week in honour of an ANC MP who had died, Zopporah Nawa.

At that meeting, Nawa’s daughter, Emmarentia Nawa, had spoken about negative developments that had affected the ANC branch to which her mother had belonged.

These included the allegation that rapists and other criminal elements had succeeded in capturing the leadership of the branch.

Mbeki had raised the issue in previous caucus meetings, and MPs understood he raised it to encourage them to interact with the membership to defeat this negative development, they said.

”Knowing the situation in our movement, we have never assumed that he spoke to urge us to sustain the value system of the ANC to use this as a disguised attack of comrade Zuma.

”We deeply regret the fact that some anonymous and undisciplined members of our caucus decided to speak to the media, contrary to our rules, to tell blatant untruths about what President Mbeki said.

”It is most unfortunate that the media has relied on anonymous sources to create a story that has absolutely no substance,” Mogase and Mentor said.

The Cape Argus had reported on Sunday that Mbeki made an impassioned plea to ANC MPs not to allow the ruling party to be led by ”rapists”, ”criminals” and ”counter-revolutionaries and mercenaries”.

He had embarked on what some ANC MPs interpreted as a ”last-minute campaign” and a veiled attack on Zuma, the report said. — Sapa