ANC 'disturbed' by Tutu remarks
The ANC is “increasingly disturbed” by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s comments on the investigation against its president Jacob Zuma.
It said the tone of his comments on the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) consideration of representations on Zuma’s case indicated he was “either knowledgeable of the decision or seeking to pre-empt an outcome that is favourable to Jacob Zuma”.
This, the party said in a statement, was “tantamount to him undermining the independence of the NPA and the judiciary which is unfortunate for a person of this stature”.
The comments they were responding to were made at a book launch in Durban on Wednesday night.
While the ANC leader was a warm and friendly man, Tutu said he was not the ideal president.
“In the year of [US President Barack] Obama, can you imagine what it is like when you are walking in New York and they ask you who will be the next president?
“At the present time, I can’t pretend to be looking forward to having him as my president.”
He said he hoped the NPA would decide to continue with Zuma’s fraud and corruption prosecution.
“For his own sake, I hope they are not going to have a political solution. If he is innocent as he has claimed to be, for goodness sake, let it be a court of law that says so,” said Tutu.
The NPA was locked in meetings earlier this week to discuss the possibility of dropping Zuma’s prosecution on graft charges.
It was expected to annunce on Friday when it would make its decision public.
The ANC believed Zuma’s case had to be dealt with in a “transparent, fair and legal manner”.
“It would be unfortunate if the bishop is found not to respect the rule of law and its processes.
“It is our view that the Bishop’s views do not resonate with the dominant view of the public and the average citizens.
If the bishop wants to pronounce on Zuma’s guilt and innocence at a personal level, he must say so and would find this to be out of character given his standing as a man of the cloth.
The party was “taken aback” by Tutu’s “continued comparison of the ANC to God”, considering this blasphemy and sacrilege.
Tutu was welcome to talk to the ANC about his concerns and would benefit from a walk through Gugulethu, Langa and Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
“Walking the streets of New York will certainly result in him having a narrow view of South Africa.”
Cosatu says comments ‘despicable’
The Congress of South African Trade Unions described Tutu’s comments as “despicable”.
The trade union federation said it was concerned that he was allowing his “personal passionate hatred” for the ANC and its leader to cloud his judgement.
“We do not share his ultra-pessimism and dismissive attitude of the views of the majority. It is a fact, even if we do not like it, that comrade Jacob Zuma won a free and fair election in Polokwane to become a president of the ANC,” Cosatu said in a statement.
It defended Zuma’s right to make representation to the NPA and slammed opposition parties and Tutu for pre-empting a decision by the authority as “desperate politicking”.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Tutu said South Africa was at a “bad place right now”.
“It was easy to be against something [during the struggle]. A far more difficult task has been left to you—making a reality of our freedom. So when our new government behaves somewhat strangely, it is very difficult to condemn because it looks like you are unpatriotic ... we are at a bad place right now in our country.
“We imagined that our idealism, our altruism, being concerned about others more than ourselves, would be automatically carried over into the post-apartheid era, and we were surprised by how easily we seemed to forget,” he said.
He repeated his criticism of the government’s refusal to grant a visa to Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
“When [Finance Minister] Trevor Manuel tried to justify it [the Dalai Lama decision] and was so sneery, I said ‘aikhona, this can’t be what we struggled for’.”
Tutu also questioned the medical parole granted to Zuma’s former financial adviser, fraud convict Schabir Shaik.
“Then there’s [Schabir] Shaik. It’s not a laughing matter—it’s people saying ‘go jump in a lake’ if you have objections. Is this why people died, is this why people went into exile, is this why people were tortured?
“This is our country, our beautiful country. Please allow us old people to go to our graves smiling,” said Tutu.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday described Tutu’s comments as “misplaced and unfortunate”.
It said Tutu was “clearly on a campaign trail”.
“Whilst we accept and acknowledge his right to freedom of speech, it is very worrying that his intentions seems to be to canvass for the opposition,” said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.
Baleni said the union respected the archbishop and his credentials.
“He must not abuse himself. The right that the bishop does not have is to hate the children of God with passion.”
‘Dignified, selfless thing’
In 2006, Tutu said Zuma should not pursue the race to become president of the African National Congress.
Delivering the Harold Wolpe Memorial lecture in Cape Town on August 23 of that year, Tutu said: “I pray that someone will be able to counsel him that the most dignified, most selfless thing, the best thing he could do for a land he loves deeply is to declare his decision not to take further part in the succession race of his party.” - Sapa