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Leon condemns 'treason' label

2004-08-26 21:45

Cape Town - Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon has condemned an accusation of "treason" levelled against him by a senior member of the ANC during a debate in the national assembly earlier this week.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of a new national DA head office in Cape Town on Thursday, he said the incident ill-served democracy in South Africa.

The accusation was made on Tuesday during debate on the so-called "Travelgate" scam, involving fraudulent use of MPs travel vouchers.

"ANC caucus chair, Vytjie Mentor... accused me... of inciting an uprising and committing 'treason', a remark that she was forced by the chair to withdraw.

"This was no idle jest from a minor back-bencher; Mentor is one of the senior leaders of the ANC in parliament.

"After withdrawing her remark, she continued to accuse the DA of turning South Africans against their government... "

Leon said treason was a serious offence.

Zimbabwe

"In Zimbabwe, the leader of the parliamentary opposition was arrested and charged with treason on the flimsiest of pretexts.

"How great is the distance between that approach to opposition, and that of the South African government?

"When a senior member of the ruling party can accuse the opposition of treason merely for raising questions in parliament about corruption, what else becomes possible?

"Are we on the same slippery slope as Zimbabwe?

"South African democracy was ill-served by this spectacle, which insulted the intelligence of the people and damaged the integrity of parliament as an institution," Leon said.