Mbeki breaks the silence

2008-09-14 00:00

President Thabo Mbeki broke his silence for the first time following the groundbreaking judgment by Judge Chris Nicholson that the decision to prosecute ANC president Jacob Zuma was invalid. Mbeki responded yesterday during a two-day presidential imbizo held in Alfred Nzo, Mount Ayliff, in the Eastern Cape.

The imbizo was dominated by corruption allegations, the process of awarding tenders in municipalities, neglect of the families of ANC cadres who fought for liberation, poverty and the backlog of multi-million-rand projects.

In his speech, Mbeki said the people should not say “bye bye” to him as government still need to follow up on promises they have made.

“What has been said by [Eastern Cape Premier Mbulelo Sogoni] that I am here for the last time … I don’t know where he got that … ”

Mbeki told reporters he has not received the document of the judgment, but has been told about some of the allegations.

He did not elaborate, but The Witness has learnt that among those allegations is that the case was politically interfered with. Mbeki said after the ruling that government never interfered with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in terms of who to prosecute or not.

“I think if there is anybody who has provided information to the contrary, it will be wrong. We will specifically look at what the judge said and we will see what action will be taken in terms of legality.

“The government was not cited as respondent in this case, but the NPA was the respondent. As government, my office was never asked to provide any submissions in the case.”

Mbeki ducked the issue of calls in yesterday’s papers that he should step down, saying that he had not read the papers yet.

He then mentioned the issue of Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing deal and admitted that it was delayed because there were many matters to be dealt with, not only to constitute an inclusive government there, but also issues that have to do with programmes of the government, and constitutional matters.

“The … leaders of Zimbabwe have understood the nature of challenges they are facing and the need for them to work together as they agreed to sign the deal.”

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