/ 5 November 2008

Zille accuses Zuma of dodging debate

African National Congress president Jacob Zuma’s decision to turn down an invitation to a public debate is regrettable, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille
said on Wednesday.

”I learnt today that Zuma has for the fourth time passed up an opportunity of a public debate on matters of policy with me — this is regrettable, especially since Zuma challenged his political opponents to a debate on policies during a speech at the Jabulani Stadium in Soweto on Sunday,” Zille said in a statement.

The Star newspaper had arranged a debate between leaders of various political parties on Thursday.

Zille said she had made it clear to the newspaper that she would participate only if Zuma confirmed his attendance.

”However, Zuma has declined the invitation and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe will now represent the ruling party,” she said.

It was disingenuous for Zuma to decline the invitation after having accused the DA of not having any policies of its own.

”The arrogance of this claim has now been underscored by Zuma’s unavailability for the panel discussion hosted by the Star.

”He is demonstrating a disdain for political opposition and democracy,” Zille said. – Sapa