Cope calls for Zuma security probe

The Congress of the People (Cope) will ask the Public Protector to probe the reported R1-million spent on protecting African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma every month, its presidential candidate, Mvume Dandala, said on Tuesday.

“Cope will write to the Public Protector on three matters,” Dandala told reporters in Kliptown, Soweto.

“The attempted cover-up of the Travelgate scam ... the excessive R1-million a month on security detail of ANC president Jacob Zuma ...[and] the use of food parcels for campaigning.”

Earlier this month, it emerged from a written reply to a parliamentary question that VIP protection for Zuma was costing the taxpayer about R1-million every month.

Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa said R998 815 was spent on close protection, static protection, overtime, vehicle and telephone costs.

Dandala said Cope would send letters to the Public Protector this week.

“The general secretary of Cope will dispatch these letters this week to make these inquiries—the people of South Africa have a right to know whether their resources are not being squandered,” said Dandala.

The Travelgate inquiry refers to reports of plans to purchase the loan book of one of the travel agencies involved in the saga where MPs abused parliamentary travel vouchers.

The purchase of the loan book would protect the MPs implicated from being sued for money owed.

The food parcels inquiry refers to “the use of food parcels for campaigning, including the contravention of the electoral laws by ... [an NGO] in involving party politics in the genuine act of compassion to our people”, said Dandala.

He was speaking at his first official media conference as Cope’s presidential candidate.

In a 50-minute speech, Dandala lamented alleged incidents of intimidation in the run-up to the election.

“The open intimidation of [Unisa vice-chancellor] Barney Pityana and Wiseman Nkuhlu [Cope’s Eastern Cape premier candidate]—prominent elders of this society, is a clear indication that none of us and none of our people will be spared of harassment for making their political choices,” said Dandala.

Nkuhlu, a former economic adviser to former president Thabo Mbeki, was recently sacked as chairperson of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.

Pityana has been accused by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union of abusing his position at the university to promote Cope’s agenda.

“Our people are hounded out of their jobs, their houses burned down, their meetings disrupted, sometimes accompanied by violence,” said Dandala.

“We will seek an urgent meeting with the [Independent Electoral Commission] soon to discuss these matters in details.

“There will never be free and fair elections when there is no fair play and when some areas of our country are openly declared no-go zones for others.”

Dandala said Cope would launch a “Value Charter” this weekend when Human Rights Day is celebrated.

“Our country is longing for the rekindling of the hope that was born with the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the liberation of all our people,” said Dandala, who called for the creation of a “value-centred society”.—Sapa

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