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02 Apr 2009 12:00
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is not looking forward to a Jacob Zuma presidency, he said in Durban on Wednesday evening.
While the African National Congress leader was a warm and friendly man, Tutu said he was not the ideal president, the Witness newspaper and South African Broadcasting Corporation radio news quoted him as saying.
“In the year of [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,” said Tutu who was speaking at a book launch at the Durban city hall.
He said he hoped the National Prosecuting Authority 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 discontinuing Zuma’s prosecution.
It was expected to announce on Friday when it would announce its decision.
Tutu added that South Africa was at a “bad place right now”.
“It was easy to be against something [during the struggle].
“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,” said Tutu, who also repeated his criticism against the government refusing the Dalai Lama entry to South Africa.
“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 that was granted to Zuma’s former financial adviser, frauc 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 said Tutu’s comments were “misplaced and unfortunate”.
The union 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 seem 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.”
Zille to take legal action
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance will consider taking legal action if the NPA opts to drop charges against Zuma without providing a “satisfactory” explanation.
“The DA will demand to know its reasons for doing so. Should the reasons not be satisfactory and accompanied by proper disclosure, we will institute legal proceedings to ensure that justice is served,” said DA leader Helen Zille in a statement on Thursday.
The NPA was deciding whether to drop 16 criminal charges—one of racketeering, one of money-laundering, two of corruption and 12 of fraud, against Zuma, based on representations his legal team made to it.
“Selected leaks to the press indicate that the NPA is hopelessly compromised because of political interference. It appears that the NPA might drop the charges against Jacob Zuma because it fears that Zuma will use his own corruption trial to demonstrate that the NPA was complicit in a political conspiracy against him,” Zille said.
Irrespective of the role the NPA played in the alleged conspiracy, she said, “the fact remains that Jacob Zuma has a case to answer”.
Quoting Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Louis Harms, the opposition party leader said there were “strong grounds” to proceed with Zuma’s prosecution for the 783 bribes he was allegedly involved in with Shaik.
“As Judge Louis Harms of the Supreme Court of Appeal noted, in overturning the Pietermaritzburg High Court’s 2008 verdict on Zuma’s prosecution: ‘A prosecution is not wrongful merely because it is brought for an improper purpose. It will only be wrongful if, in addition, reasonable and probable grounds for prosecuting are absent’.”
Proceeding with Zuma’s prosecution was the NPA’s “duty and responsibility”, she said.
Earlier this week, Zuma said it was “hypocritical” for opposition parties to pre-empt the NPA’s decision.
This was after the DA made submissions to the authority on why the charges against him should not be dropped.
“It is hypocritical to say you respect the Constitution and the rule of law and when the processes of the law are happening within the law… both the accused and the NPA are operating within the law, why do you jump and interfere?
“You even attack a decision that does not exist,” Zuma said. - Sapa
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