Zuma assets a special case - ANC

2010-03-09 13:10

Johannesburg - The ANC regretted that their presidential choice Jacob Zuma missed the deadline to declare his assets to Parliament, but said the circumstances needed to be understood.

"We have a special case, in that we are dealing with a president who has a large family and therefore it is not easy," spokesperson Brian Sokutu said on Tuesday following the revelation that Zuma had missed the 60 day deadline to declare his personal interests.

"We regret the fact that the deadline wasn't met but as I said before it has to be understood," said Sokutu.

Different set of circumstances

"What you have to understand is the fact that the president has more than one wife and therefore it is a different set of circumstances and we are asking people to really respect that. He hasn't said that he is not going to comply."

Zuma, who has three wives and reportedly 20 children, is being guided by lawyers on the matter, after it was initially reported that his office felt there was ambiguity in the law on the declaration of his assets.

Political analysts have insisted that the law - the Executive Members' Ethics Act and the Executive Ethics Code - is clear on the matter, and that he does have to declare. The Democratic Alliance has asked the Public Protector to investigate the matter.
The fact that Zuma put together a legal team on the matter proved that he did not consider himself above the law, said Sokutu.

"We are as the ANC satisfied and confident that this process will be put in place and sorted out. A team was announced by the presidential spokesperson. Therefore as the ANC we think that he has shown no disregard for the law."

Defence attorney

The team includes attorney Michael Hulley who managed Zuma's rape and corruption defence.

"As the presidency has said, that one of the provisions of the law deals with his family and he has a big family and this is something that has to be taken into account.

"It's not something that the opposition parties want - that you can just push and get it over as an overnight thing."

By attending court during his rape trial, where he was acquitted, and the run up to his corruption trial, Zuma had shown he was "committed to complying with the rule of law".

"What we are saying with regards to disclosure - he doesn't have one spouse - he's got many spouses - and therefore it's a big family and he wants to be thorough."

Sokutu said the party would "certainly be worried if he was not doing anything about it".

An announcement on whether he will declare his assets is expected on Wednesday and the presidency referred queries on the matter to Hulley, who would not say more.

List of assets to be compiled

On Monday, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said a list of Zuma's assets would be compiled anyway, in case it was found that he must declare them.

Sokutu said having a team in place on the matter indicated there was a move towards declaration.

The African Christian Democratic Party said his failure to declare his assets "sheds more light" on why he rejected the Congress of SA Trade Unions' call for lifestyle audits for Cabinet members and politicians.

"The accountability measures that the president said are in place are insufficient, as, they have failed to convince the president himself to declare his assets,” said ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe in a statement.

"The ACDP is shocked that the president has failed once again to set a good example for the people he is leading.

"Concerns about his moral failure have hardly subsided, and we now hear that the president has failed to set a good example for public representatives by failing to declare his financial interests," said Meshoe.