/ 7 December 2007

Skweyiya regrets publication of Lekota letter

”Unfortunate and regrettable” was how Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya on Friday described the publication of a letter in which he criticised Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.

”I wish to state that the letter was intended for internal discussion within the African National Congress (ANC), and not for public consumption,” he said.

While he was upset that the letter was leaked to the media, he did not express regret about its contents.

The Star on Wednesday reported that Skweyiya had expressed disgust at the ”anti-ANC” behaviour — to ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe — complaining about comments Lekota, also the chairperson of the ANC, made about party deputy president Jacob Zuma.

”This is unacceptable and should not be entertained in the list, especially considering the case he is referring to is sub-judice. I find this type of conduct un-comradely and totally anti-ANC. We might agree and disagree with Comrade Zuma, but conducting it in this manner is unacceptable and I appeal for your intervention,” Skweyiya wrote.

Lekota had reportedly accused Zuma of lying when he alleged that he was fired due to a political conspiracy against him. The defence minister said it was Zuma himself who had suggested he be fired from his position as deputy president of the country after his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found guilty of fraud and corruption.

Skweyiya wrote: ”Fighting publicly, especially in this manner, is something that nobody had ever contemplated. I strongly feel this is unacceptable and I have been trying to make contact with Comrade Terror [Lekota] to express my views to him personally.”

Skweyiya said the issue was ”in the hands of the national executive committee of the ANC”.

”I will not engage in any public debate or discussion of the contents,” he added. — Sapa