November 21, 2005

S.Africa’s Zuma confirms rape probe

By John Chiahemen

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's former deputy
president, Jacob Zuma, has confirmed he is facing rape
allegations, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on

Newspaper reports of rape allegations against Zuma, who was
sacked in June and faces a graft trial, have further muddled
South Africa's increasingly murky and charged domestic

ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe said the party
planned no sanctions against Zuma, who must be presumed
innocent under South African law until the matter is decided in

Zuma remains the ANC's deputy president despite being
sacked as national deputy president. The ANC has been rocked by
rifts since President Thabo Mbeki took a gamble by firing Zuma,
a folksy politician hugely popular with grassroots party

Zuma has denied allegations, first reported by a Sunday
newspaper on November 13, that he sexually assaulted a female
guest at his Johannesburg home. Police have refused to confirm
whether they are investigating such allegations.

"The deputy president did indeed tell us that these
allegations of rape against him are real," Motlanthe told a
news conference after a meeting of the ANC's National Executive

Party officials said the meeting, attended by both Zuma and
Mbeki, was dominated by the threat to the ANC's unity following
Zuma's sacking. The talks stretched to an unscheduled third

Mothlante said Zuma himself volunteered to discuss the rape

"He said it (the allegation) happened as covered by the
media. That is why he had to issue a statement through his
lawyer denying involvement in the rape," Motlanthe said in
answer to a reporter's question.

Zuma was fired as national deputy president in June after
his former financial adviser was convicted of corruption and
fraud in a judgment that implicated Zuma.

A revolt by grassroots members of the ANC at a meeting in
July forced the party to reverse an earlier decision also to
relieve Zuma of his party leadership position.


Zuma's two court appearances in the corruption case brought
out thousands of his supporters in the port city of Durban,
many openly accusing Mbeki of orchestrating what they called
trumped up charges to deny Zuma a chance to be the country's

A major item on the agenda of the ANC's weekend meeting was
a report prepared by Mbeki and Zuma on how to deal with Zuma's
repeated charges of a political conspiracy against him.

"The NEC understands the events, information and
circumstances that led the Deputy President to come to the
conclusions he has reached regarding what he perceives as
representing a political conspiracy," an ANC statement said.

"However, we are unanimous in our conviction that such a
'conspiracy' did not originate from within our movement nor was
it conducted by any legitimate structure of our movement ..."

Ruling allies of the ANC, including the labor federation
COSATU, the South African Communist Party and the ANC Youth
League, have all thrown their weight behind Zuma.

But all three groups have been noticeably silent since the
rape allegations emerged, prompting local newspapers to
conclude that an isolated Zuma was now fighting for his
political life.

The ANC acknowledged that the Zuma controversy was
threatening its unity as it heads for local elections next
March, but Motlanthe said the ANC expected Zuma to help it with
its election campaigning.