Mbeki denies initiating Zuma charges
Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has rejected claims that he initiated two criminal cases against his successor President Jacob Zuma, his spokesperson said on Thursday
"They are devoid of all truth," Mukoni Ratshitanga said.
He said Mbeki "categorically rejects" the allegations made by newly-appointed Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Willem Heath.
Heath made the claims in an interview with City Press, published last Sunday. He resigned as SIU head when Mbeki was president.
This came after a court ruling that he could not head the proposed SIU investigation into possible arms deal corruption, because, at that time, he was a judge.
Zuma appointed Heath as head of the SIU again last week.
Ratshitanga said Heath made defamatory and malicious allegations against Mbeki in the interview with City Press.
These included that Mbeki abused his position to compromise the criminal justice system by blocking some investigations into corrupt practices, and initiated the corruption and rape charges against Zuma by the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
The corruption charges against Zuma and arms company Thint were dropped, and Zuma was acquitted on the rape charge.
Ratshitanga said: "The allegations made by Heath are very grave, more so because they are made by the head of a critical organ of our criminal justice system and suggest illegal conduct on the part of a former head of state and government."
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found no basis in the allegation of political interference on the part of Mbeki and the then Cabinet in Zuma's corruption case, Ratshitanga said.
"Among other things, the SCA said that 'the allegations (of political interference) were irrelevant, gratuitous and based on suspicion and not on fact'."
Ratshitanga said Mbeki previously warned about the "use of fabrications to advance particular political agendas and to divert attention from the pressing challenges of the day".
"If our broad leadership at all levels of society do not address this tendency, it may become an indelible part of our political culture and make it impossible for our country to address the real challenges we face."
It was with great reluctance that Mbeki was being forced to comment on domestic politics and the Heath allegations, he said.
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 the deputy president after Zuma's financial adviser was convicted of corruption.
Sectors of the ANC and the ANC Youth League publicly turned on Mbeki after this.