Put Rasool job on hold - DA

2010-07-01 23:42

Cape Town - Ebrahim Rasool should not be allowed to take up his post as ambassador to the United States until allegations of secret payments to journalists had been investigated, the Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.

"An ambassador is supposed to represent a country and thus should be beyond reproach," said the party's foreign affairs spokesperson Kenneth Mubu.

"It is not possible for Mr Rasool to fulfil this requirement with such a substantial allegation hanging over his head."

A former political reporter on the Cape Argus, Ashley Smith, said this week that he and another staffer took payments to write articles promoting Rasool, who was then Western Cape premier.

Smith said Rasool had used them as his "front line of attack" against rivals in the African National Congress, particularly provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha.

Rasool, who became a member of the National Assembly after he was axed from the premiership by his own party in 2008, is South Africa's ambassador-designate to Washington.

Mubu said the department of international relations was now "duty bound" to withhold his posting.

"Ideally, Mr Rasool should put South Africa first and withdraw from his appointment," he said.

There was also a strong case to be made that Rasool's general conduct as premier did not suggest he was fit to represent South Africa abroad.

The high court had found he established the Erasmus Commission to pursue a political agenda, Mubu said.