South Africa: Tensions mount ahead of Zuma charge

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South Africa’s ruling ANC has lashed out oat Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for saying its leader Jacob Zuma, the president of the ruling African National Congress, is not fit to become President. Meanwhile, armed police patrol has been mounted at the National Prosecuting Authority headquarters ahead of monday’s announcement about whether charges against Zuma is to be dropped as youths get ready for massive protests.

“It is our view that the Bishop’s views do not resonate with the dominant view of the public and the average citizens,” said ANC spokesman Jessie Duarte in a statement. “It would be unfortunate if the Bishop is found pandering to the whims of the minority of South Africans who happen to have access to media and other influential platforms”, she added.

Tutu said he would be ashamed of a Zuma presidency, and that the ANC leader should have his day in court and step aside from the presidential race. He expressed his wish for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to press ahead with its criminal charges against Zuma.

The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa had earlier indicated that they would announce on Friday how Zuma’s matter would conclude.

Duarte lashed out: “His tone and insistence on the pending outcome of the decision of the NPA suggests that he is either knowledgeable of the decision or seeking to pre-empt an outcome that is favourable to Jacob Zuma (…) This is tantamount to him undermining the independence of the NPA and the judiciary which is unfortunate for a person of this stature.”

She charged that Tutu would not have “a narrow view of South Africa” if he walked the streets of Gugulethu, Langa and Khayelitsha instead of walking the streets of New York (…) We are further disturbed by the Bishop’s continued comparison of the ANC to God as this is blasphemous (…) The ANC has not equated itself to God and it has never pretended to be God. We are taken aback by the Archbishop’s sacrilege,” Duarte said.

Armed police patrol

Meanwhile, armed policemen wearing bullet proof vests have been patrolling the National Prosecuting Authority’s Silverton headquarters in South Africa as tension mounted about whether the State would drop charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

The NPA would issue a statement later today about when it would announce the decision. Current reports say the decision may only be announced on Monday.

About 120 Cope youth members were expected to march on the NPA’s offices to deliver a memorandum, although it appeared not to have the blessing of some of the party’s leaders, reports say.

“How a couple of hundred people marching in the name of Cope could prevent the NPA from making any announcement is beyond me,” said party founder Mbhazima Shilowa. “If the NPA is losing its nerve, they must not use us as a scapegoat.”

Police, however, were taking no chances, and patrolled the area with dogs.

Charges dropped?

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa this morning claimed that he had reliable information that the charges would in deed be dropped.

Holomisa said that as part of a PR exercise police would be asked to “further investigate” aspects of the so-called spy tapes that is believed to contain information that has tainted the State’s prosecution.

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