/ 28 February 2008

Mauritian authorities deny Zuma request

Mauritian Attorney General Rama Valayden has formally objected to a request by African National Congress president Jacob Zuma to withhold information from investigators in South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday.

The evidence relates to his impending fraud, corruption and money-laundering trial.

Zuma is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of rands in bribes from French company Thint to stop investigations into allegedly corrupt government weapons contracts.

Zuma travelled to Mauritius earlier this month for talks with the Attorney General.

Former special advisor to Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, Dinesh Ramjettun, told the broadcaster that to date no indication had been given by the Attorney General’s office or the anti-corruption office on the decision taken.

”Yes, the case came up in the morning in the chamber and the Attorney General and the … anti-corruption bureau office objected to the request made by Mr Zuma, therefore the judge has requested the Attorney General’s office and the [anti-corruption bureau] office to submit the affidavit by 7 March when the case is to come up again, to say why we are objecting to the request made by Mr Zuma,” Ramjettun said.

No indication had yet been given on the reasons for the decision.

”No, there is no indication … the reasons have not been given which is why we have to put everything in the affidavit; in the forthcoming affidavit,” he said.

‘Grave misgivings’

Top leaders of the ANC said in January they had ”grave misgivings” about the timing and handling of the corruption charges against Zuma.

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) said after its first meeting since Zuma had been elected party president that it questioned the National Prosecuting Authority’s handling of the charges against him and said Zuma would still be their candidate for state president in 2009.

In a statement after the meeting, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party’s top body had ”reaffirmed its support for the ANC president during these trying times”.

”It [the NEC] confirmed that the ANC president will lead the ANC election campaign as the organisation’s candidate for president of South Africa in the 2009 election,” Mantashe added.

The trial of Zuma is scheduled for August 4.

Zuma has said he will stand down from his position if found guilty of any offence but he has steadfastly insisted on his innocence. – Sapa