Asmal: I'm exercising my rights

2009-10-20 22:03

Johannesburg - Former minister Kader Asmal said he was exercising his right to freedom of expression when he said the ANC was "militarising" the police.

"I wish to make it clear that I was exercising my constitutionally upheld right to freedom of expression," said Asmal on Tuesday.

African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu earlier said Asmal's remarks were "unfortunate", that the comments Asmal made at the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday were shocking and undesirable.

"Amongst other remarks that comrade Kader Asmal made, (relates to) the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of the charges against President Jacob Zuma," he said.

Radebe 'politically illiterate'

"He further asserted that comrade Jeff Radebe, who is the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, is "politically illiterate", and that "he hopes that he is not alive when the Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula becomes the ANC secretary-general".

Mthembu said comments that the ANC was planning to "militarise the police" could not be backed by any facts.

"The ANC has a programme to ensure that our police are better placed to fight crime and criminality in our country."

"We also remain committed to ensuring that our police themselves do not fall victim to criminals," Mthembu said.

"Fighting crime and fighting the causes of crime is one of the priorities of the ANC-led government."


Mthembu said Asmal should have used the ANC structures to raise his concerts about these matters, instead of raising them in public platforms.

Asmal responded: "Since I believe very strongly that freedom of the press is vital to the maintenance of democracy, I shall continue to exercise this right, which is protected by our Constitution."

He said it was ironic that his lecture took place on a day "when 32 years ago the apartheid regime banned black newspapers and 17 organisations connected to the black consciousness movement".