Shaik puts JZ in a spot

2009-12-26 12:39

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is refusing to say what he thinks of his former financial adviser’s feisty demand for a presidential pardon.

Zuma is also avoiding questions about Schabir Shaik’s ­violation of his parole terms last week, which was revealed in a widely reported exposé by City Press.

“I don’t want to comment about something that I don’t know where it’s coming from,” Zuma snapped in an interview with City Press.

The president then refused to field further questions during the interview, which took place at Nkandla, where he was running a campaign to teach the youth how to play chess.

Last week City Press spotted Shaik – who was said to be terminally ill – in Durban driving around in his luxurious BMW X6.

He later told City Press that he wanted his “f****** pardon”.

Referring to Zuma and French arms company Thint – the two other parties charged for corruption with him in an arms deal – Shaik asked “how come people that should have been charged are declared free to walk around, and the man at the ­centre of things is still serving house arrest”.

“Why should I even be asking for a pardon? If three people were part of a so-called plot to elicit funds from the French why are the French free? Why is the president free and why is Shaik still sitting as a convict? C’mon!” he said.

Shaik’s questions on why Zuma is free create the impression that the ANC president was guilty of corruption and undermine the fact that charges against him were dropped.

This week Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula curtailed Shaik’s freedom after he admitted violating his parole conditions. The parole was granted to Shaik nine months ago on medical grounds.

The minister then imposed the following sanctions on Shaik:

He will no longer be allowed to make visits to his doctor’s rooms. Medical consultations will henceforth be conducted at his residence or at a place determined or approved by the relevant case officer;

Free time has been reduced from six to two hours, but his privilege to attend prayer meetings at a mosque on Fridays was not affected;

Shaik has been warned that further violations might result in a warrant of detention being issued, which could result in him being sent back to jail;

His parole officer has been changed and a senior official allocated to him; and

His behaviour will be monitored and might be reviewed after six months.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s decision has angered the Democratic Alliance and the United Democratic Movement, who feel she was too lenient.

“The decision to grant him medical parole was clearly illegal and ­politically motivated and the minister’s decision not to refer this decision for review constitutes a cop-out and a cover-up of note,” DA MP James Selfe said.

Vincent Smith, the chairperson of Parliament’s correctional services portfolio committee, said Shaik was under obligation to conform to his parole conditions.

However, Smith warned that there should be neither undue pressure nor undue leniency on Shaik.

“If parole conditions are broken, the (Correctional Services) must act. Schabir Shaik should not be given preferential treatment because he is Schabir Shaik and he should not be given harsh treatment because of who he is,” Smith said. He said Shaik was entitled to apply for a pardon if he felt he deserved it.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal refused to be drawn to comment on the matter. Provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala referred all queries to the ANC’s headquarters in Joburg, which could not be reached.

Out of a few ANC national executive committee members contacted to comment on the matter, only one expressed shock about Shaik’s ­conduct.

“This is shocking to the ANC leadership. His behaviour is not helping the process. It undermines the parole system,” the NEC member said.

“The way this issue is being handled is not proper. We want a report on the matter so as to have facts and take action,” the member said.

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