Tutu lashes out at Zuma

2011-03-09 14:25

Archbishop Desmond Tutu today passed wide-ranging criticisms of President Jacob Zuma and his administration.

Delivering the annual Desmond Tutu Ecumenical Lecture at the University of the Western Cape, the former cleric, who turns 80 later this year, strayed far in his speech from the strict definition of ecumenical.

“I am very fond of President Zuma. He is affable and warm. But I do believe it would have been better for him to have been pronounced innocent by a court of law weighing the evidence, rather than through a dubious administrative act,” Tutu told his audience.

He then turned his attention to South Africa’s controversial arms deal.

“And, if indeed there is nothing to hide, the government surely has nothing to fear from a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal. It is an unnecessary albatross to carry the huge doubts.”

On corruption, he warned the country was being dragged backwards.

“Our country with such tremendous potential is going to be dragged backwards and downwards by corruption, which, in some instances, is quite blatant.”

Tutu criticised Zuma’s relationship with Schabir Shaik and the Gupta family.

“It may be that there is nothing to worry about with the parole of [Schabir] Shaik, but it must raise eyebrows when someone who was said to be at death’s door is shown playing golf. It is worrying when his close relationship to the president is put in juxtaposition.

“Perhaps the Gupta family would make all those lucrative deals and it is merely coincidental that the president’s son is a beneficiary.”

He described these relationships as worrisome.

“It may all be above board, but it is worrisome. I am sure it is all in order, but it is disturbing that there are these seeming coincidences.”

Tutu called for a return to a constituency-based electoral system.

“I think the party lists for selecting our representatives have served their very important purpose of ensuring representation for every conceivable grouping in the transition years.

“But we really do not want kow-towing sycophantic voting figures who are always ready to change their principles in order to stay on those party lists.

“We must revert to the well-tried constituency system,” Tutu said. 

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