Zuma mum on Heath concerns

2011-12-09 14:43

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Johannesburg - The presidency will not comment now on concerns over the appointment of Willem Heath as Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head, spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Friday.

"The president's position is that he was looking into the matter," he said.

Concerns were voiced over the appointment after Heath told the City Press that Thabo Mbeki, former president and political rival to Jacob Zuma, initiated rape and corruption charges against Zuma.

Maharaj said: "Matters arising from the interview raised certain concerns and he therefore decided to look into the matter and he will take everything into consideration."

Zuma would discuss the matter with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Maharaj said.

Earlier on Friday, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) welcomed reports that Zuma would look into the matter after finding Heath's comments "disturbing" for a person appointed to head the SIU.

Bias

"Heath's comments... adversely reflect on the integrity and credibility of a former head of state and cannot be condoned under any circumstances," Nadel said in a statement.

"The statements... amount to his expression of his personal opinion on matters that fall within the purview of his new office."

Nadel said independence and impartiality were as much a matter of perception as of reality.

"Making such statements in public, regardless of the subject matter or to whom they are directed, shows a lack of appreciation of the necessity that no perception of bias could ever be attributed to the head of the SIU."

At the very least, Heath should publicly withdraw the statements, Nadel said.

The corruption charges against Zuma and arms company Thint were dropped, and Zuma was acquitted on the rape charge.

Since his appointment, the Congress of the People called Heath "too risky" and the Democratic Alliance said he was "too partisan".

The Inkatha Freedom Party, African Christian Democratic Party, and the African National Congress were happy that he was back.

Heath had headed a previous SIU during Mbeki's tenure but resigned when it was declared that, as a practising judge, he could not do so.

- SAPA

Read more on:    siu  |  nadel  |  willem heath  |  thabo mbeki  |  jacob zuma  |  jeff radebe
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