Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vavi Given Deadline by SAHRC to Retract Zuma Statement

Vavi given deadline to retract Zuma statement


Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been given 14 days by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to retract his "kill for [Jacob] Zuma" statement made at the weekend.

"We gave Vavi 14 days to unequivocally retract his statement made at a funeral on Saturday," said the SAHRC in a statement on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Vincent Moaga said that if Vavi failed to retract his statement the commission could subpoena him to appear before it and after that it would issue findings and recommendations.

"The recommendations could be getting an order from the Equality Court which would prohibit Vavi from uttering such statements in future and that if he does, he could be charged with in contempt of court.

"When one is charged with in contempt of court he can be arrested," he said.

Moaga said the commission would take the matter to the Equality Court because the statements were in conflict with the values enshrined in the country's Constitution -- including the values of equality, human dignity and advancement of human rights.

"The statements were also discrimination as they discriminate against those who do not support Zuma."

Vavi's comments were made at the funeral of Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union vice-president Pretty Shuping on Saturday.

The trade unionist echoed African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema's remarks that ANC president Zuma's supporters were prepared to kill for him should the corruption charges against Zuma not be dropped.

The SAHRC has given Malema until next week Wednesday to apologise for his statement, which he has refused to do so far.

Moaga said that if Malema had not apologised by next week Wednesday, the commission could either decide to give him more time to respond, or it could subpoena him to appear before the SAHRC.

The SAHRC would then make a recommendation and if the respondent failed to adhere to that, the commission could take the matter to the courts.

In its letter to Vavi the commission warned: "While the right of freedom of expression is a central for organising in our Constitution, it is not an unlimited right.

"It does not extend to propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm."

The commission said it believed that Vavi's statements could not be viewed in isolation, and should be viewed against the backdrop of unacceptable levels of crime and violence in South Africa. - Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-06-24-vavi-given-deadline-to-retract-zuma-statement

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