Mbeki: I know things you should know

2011-12-18 13:04
Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday that South Africans deserved to know facts about the country's history which were not yet public knowledge.

"I have various facts at my disposal which have not as yet seen the light of day, but which are essential pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which explains the evolution of South Africa over a number of decades, to this day."

Mbeki made these comments on Saturday in an article he wrote in response to allegations made against him by former Special Investigations Unit head Willem Heath.

This week, newly-appointed Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Willem Heath resigned following a furore over comments he made about Mbeki to the City Press newspaper.

Unfolding events

Earlier this month, Heath alleged to the newspaper that Mbeki had initiated rape and corruption charges against Jacob Zuma.

He also told City Press that Mbeki abused his position by blocking some investigations into corrupt practices.

Zuma subsequently called for a probe into Heath's accusations, following which Heath tendered his resignation.

The corruption charges against Zuma that Heath mentioned were eventually dropped, and Zuma was acquitted on the rape charge.

On Saturday, Mbeki said the high positions he had held in the ANC and in the government have given him access to a "unique body of facts" and "broad reality".

He said he was familiar with the matters referred to by Heath's allegations about him.

"I do hope that in time the opportunity will arise such that the facts about all these issues are disclosed to our people as a whole.

"Court proceedings may provide such an opportunity, as hopefully will the hearings of the projected Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Defence Procurement Package, the so-called arms deal."

Mbeki welcomes probe

In October this year, Zuma announced a commission of inquiry into the arms deal which will probe allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity.

Mbeki welcomed the establishment of the commission in his article.

"It is absolutely correct that all necessary action is taken to address all allegations, as happened and will happen with regard to the so-called ‘arms deal’."

South Africans may have been given a "welcome opportunity" to "out the truth" by Heath's allegations, said Mbeki.

Just as much as Heath must substantiate his statements, so too must "the rest of us, the accused" respond to the accusations with honesty and openness, he said.

"In the end it may very well be that the comments made by Heath...will have helped to lance a virulently poisonous boil on our body politic."

Pandora’s box

Mbeki described the "boil" as the "shameless propagation of lies by people outside of government to achieve selfish political objectives, or nefarious and disguised actions undertaken by those in positions of power, like me during the period to which Heath refers, fundamentally to betray the interests of the people and negate the objectives spelt out in our Constitution, in their personal interest."

"All this dictates that everything should be done to respond to the ‘Pandora’s box’ which Heath opened, with no restrictions."

Once 'Pandora's box' was opened, the issue was not whether Mbeki or Heath emerged as "the victor".
"The victor should be the truth," said Mbeki.

Earlier in the article, Mbeki, reiterated his position that "all the allegations made by Heath are false, malicious and defamatory.

"I am ready to defend this assertion in any forum."

Mbeki ‘reluctant to respond’

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga e-mailed a copy of Mbeki's article -which runs to over 2 000 words and is titled "Rumble in the South African Jungle!" and subtitled "Thabo Mbeki, Willem Heath, Democratic South Africa and the Truth" - to Sapa late on Saturday night.

Earlier this month, Ratshitanga said that it was with "great reluctance" that Mbeki commented on Heath's allegations; as this had meant he had to break his self-avowed silence - since his retirement - on domestic politics.

Mbeki was ousted as president in 2008 at the culmination of a long-running split in support in the ANC for himself, and Zuma. Mbeki had fired Zuma as deputy president after Zuma's financial adviser Schabir Shaik was convicted of corruption.

Sectors of the ANC and the ANC Youth League publicly turned on Mbeki after this.
- SAPA
Read more on:    anc  |  thabo mbeki  |  jacob zuma  |  willem heath  |  politics  |  arms deal  |  corruption
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