Of Mbeki, Zuma relations silence

Nor has Mbeki contacted Zuma following the latter’s acquittal on Monday in a sensational, widely publicized rape trail that gripped the southern African region and attracted international attention. Zuma made the revelation this week as the National Executive of the African National Congress prepared to convene a closed meeting to discuss his future in the party now that he has been cleared of the rape charge. The meeting is scheduled for Johannesburg today. Zuma voluntarily relinquished the post of ANC deputy president at the height of his trail in December on allegations he had raped an HIV positive woman without condom. Addressing a press conference held at Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday, Zuma said ever since Mbeki fired him after the Durban High Court found he had a “generally corrupt relationship” with Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessman, he and Mbeki had only spoken “once or twice”. Shaik, who was Zuma’s financial adviser, has been convicted but is out on bail pending appeal. Asked if he had heard from Mbeki following his acquittal on Monday, Zuma said: “No, there has been no conversation.” Mbeki’s office issued a short statement on Monday saying his office respected the independence of the judiciary and accepted the verdict. The statement came three days after Mbeki made remarks saying he preferred a woman to take over as president of South Africa. Mbeki was roundly criticized for the remarks, particularly their timing. But, Zuma maintained that, notwithstanding this lack of interaction over a long period, relations between him and Mbeki remained as good as they had “historically” been. Although Zuma had announced that he was going back to work as ANC deputy president, he said his fate was in the hands of the ANC and he would respect whatever the party decides. “The point is, I have never wanted to be a leader – the ANC decides.” He would not be drawn into commenting on Mbeki’s remarks advocating for a female president, saying it is an issue he would much rather discuss within the ANC.

May 2006
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