Thursday, April 09, 2009

ANC Elections Update: Party Slams Poster Satire; Spy Tapes Leak Exposed; Mbeki Breaks Silence

ANC slams poster satire

Election posters in ANC colours mounted recently in the Rosebank suburb of Johannesburg were fakes, the party says.

Said spokeswoman Jessie Duarte: "The African National Congress has noted the desperate attempts by mischievous forces of darkness bent on misleading South African voters by distributing and mounting fake posters purported to be those of the ANC."

She said the latest fake posters in the black, green and gold colours of the ANC had been spotted at Jan Smuts Avenue and Oxford Road in Rosebank, suburb of Johannesburg.

The posters are written in English, isiZulu, French, German and Italian, and other spoken South African languages.

Some of the posters read: "Vote Zuma, a better life for me", "Bush and I have something in common" and "Justice is the name of my next wife".

Said Duarte: "We condemn this practice by faceless individuals which demonstrates high levels of hatred and political intolerance by those opposed to ANC policies and leadership."

"South Africa is a constitutional democracy, which guarantees freedom of association and speech, among many rights we continue to enjoy. Any abuse of these rights cannot be allowed," she said.

Duarte warned that anyone found distributing fake pamphlets and purporting they belonged to the ANC to expect the full wrath of the law if apprehended by the police or volunteers, as the incident had since been taken up with the police and the Independent Electoral Commission.

"Any attempt to sow seeds of disinformation will not succeed to mislead our people. A show of our strength and mass support will once again be seen when scores of ANC supporters attend the Siyanqoba rally at Ellis Park and Johannesburg stadiums on Sunday 19 April," she said.

She added that the rally would be the last ANC gathering to be addressed by party president Jacob Zuma before the election day on 22 April.

Have you snapped the fake posters? Send us your pics!

Spy tapes leak exposed?

The National Intelligence Agency's (NIA) deputy head, Arthur Fraser, leaked secret recordings to ANC leader Jacob Zuma's lawyers — evidence that ultimately halted his prosecution, according to a report.

Quoting from three independent sources, the weekly Mail&Guardian said Fraser was once closely linked to former president Thabo Mbeki but had "changed his political tune some time ago".

"The office of the Inspector General (of Intelligence) is investigating it," NIA spokeswoman Lorna Daniels told Sapa.

"We strongly deny it. We have no further comment," she added.

Based on information obtained from the recordings, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) this week announced it would halt the prosecution of Zuma, who was facing fraud and corruption charges.

The charges were dropped by the High Court in Durban on Tuesday.

The tapes are recordings of phone conversations between former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy, discussing, among other things, the timing of an announcement to re-charge Zuma.

These conversations happened in the weeks before the ANC's conference in Polokwane in December 2007, when Zuma was elected its new leader, in a race closely contested by Mbeki.

NPA Acting National Director Mokotedi Mpshe said on Monday the recordings showed that McCarthy had abused the legal process.

According to the Mail&Guardian, Fraser, who joined the NIA in 1995, could not be reached for comment. His secretary told the newspaper he was "not in Gauteng, but in another province and can't receive any calls".

An unnamed senior legal source told the paper: "We understand Fraser felt the need to ingratiate himself with the new administration of Zuma and handed the NIA tapes over."

The chief of operations at the Inspector General of Intelligence's office, Imtiaz Fazel, confirmed it was investigating "circumstances surrounding the interception of the voice communications of certain individuals".

Mbeki breaks his silence

Former president Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday again denied any political interference in the Jacob Zuma matter and called for vigilance against the offensive practice of spreading "deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives".

In the past two months there have been media reports about Mbeki's alleged interference in the case that was brought against African National Congress president Zuma by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

"I initially decided not to comment about this unfounded speculation as I thought that no one would seek to engage in a public discussion about a matter as serious as this, without the necessary information which would enable the nation to arrive at informed and objective conclusions," Mbeki said in a statement.

In the same way that he elected to step down from the position of President of the Republic in the interest of the country and the people, he refused to be party to public mudslinging which would achieve precisely what he sought to avoid seven months ago, Mbeki said.

However, some things should be said.

"Over the years, we have consistently assured the nation that at no point did the President of the Republic or any member of the executive, instructed, encouraged, aided or sanctioned by the President interfere in the case of Jacob Zuma. "Personally, I wish to reiterate that at no stage did I interfere or contemplate interfering in the case," Mbeki said.

Some media reports of the past two weeks purported to be based on transcripts of telephone conversations between himself and the former deputy director of public prosecutions Leonard McCarthy.

The hands of third parties

"I have learnt from the NPA's statement that these alleged transcripts originate from intercepts which were legally obtained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the course of the NIA's work.

"What I do not know is how the intercepts ended up in the hands of third parties," he said.

Happily, it had been reported that the Inspector General of Intelligence was investigating this particular matter, he said.

Hopefully his report would not only shed light on this matter, but would also assist government to deal with a practice that should cause any intelligence agency, government and nation grave concern.

"However, I wish to state that whatever intercepts may exist will not prove any political interference on my part, since none took place."

On March 26, Mbeki's office issued a statement in which he invited "anyone who has such evidence [of political interference on my part] to hand it over to the law enforcement agencies so that legal remedies are sought by any party that believes that it may have been unduly compromised".

"I would like to reiterate this call so that this matter can be laid to rest as speedily as possible in order for our country and people to attend to our many challenges, without needless wrangling which will do nothing to advance the interests of our people.

Mbeki promises full co-operation

"Personally, I will give such a process my full co-operation as I trust all the members of the executive with whom I served would."

Mbeki said that on January 13 this year, a day after the Supreme Court of Appeal gave its judgement in the matter between the NDPP and Zuma, he observed that "the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country".

"It seems that going forward, our society will have to become extra vigilant about this highly offensive practice, fully conscious of the fact that it can have and has serious implications, not least concerning the integrity or lack thereof, of state institutions, and the impact of this on the lives of ordinary people," Mbeki said.

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