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South Africa Ruling Party Youth Describes Opposition Concerns as a Joke


The youth wing of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has described as a joke opposition accusation that it would be illegal if graft charges against the party leader are dropped ahead of next month's general election. The opposition Congress of the People (COPE) said Thursday that if prosecutors dropped graft charges against the ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma it would significantly undermine the country's rule of law. This comes after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it was considering dropping graft charges against Zuma after he lodged a legal request. Some political analysts contend that dropping the graft charges could boost the ANC's chances of winning the April 22 general election.

Floyd Shivambu is the spokesman of the ANC youth league. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zuma has no question to answer concerning the graft charges against him.

"It is totally ridiculous of anyone particularly of the opposition party to say that the ANC will be breaking any laws because it is within the legal provisions and the legal fraternity that the ANC president can make provisions can make representations to the NPA in terms of the charges that are intended to be against him. It is within the law; so if the National Prosecuting Authority takes an independent decision to withdraw the charges, it would be within the confines of the law," Shivambu pointed out.

He described as hypocritical the claims of the opposition party.

"Why is it that the opposition wants to say that it is against the law when the charges are withdrawn but they didn't say it was against the law when the charges were laid upon him (Zuma)? It is the right of an independent Prosecuting Authority to decide whether to put charges on someone or not. The prosecuting authority has got every right to withdraw the charges. In any way the president of the ANC does not have any case to answer because this has been a political game plan to prevent him from becoming the president of the republic," he said.

Shivambu denied the ANC will receive a significant boost if graft charges against its leader are dropped.

"There is no undue influence which is going to be given on voters. Already the ANC is going to win over 70 percent of the votes and whether the charges are dropped the majority of South Africans are going to be voting for the African National Congress. So, there is no real situation which is going to worry us in terms of these accusations. It is going to be good that when the charges are dropped it is going to be an action that should have been done a long time ago, but it really doesn't have an influence at all in terms of voter perceptions and the voter decision," Shivambu noted.

He reiterated that the charges against the ANC leader are politically motivated.

"Majority of the people know that the president of the ANC does not have a case to answer and he must be the president of the republic, and they are going to confirm that on the 22 of April," he said.

Shivambu described as bogus opposition claims of a threat to derail the ANC's two-thirds majority in parliament in the upcoming April 22 general election.

"Look, there is not a single serious opposition to the African National Congress in South Africa. That COPE situation is just a joke. COPE is not a party that is concentrating on anything and it is not even going to get even two percent of the vote in South Africa. It is just that they keep on making media statements, but they don't have the presence on the ground and they don't have presence of the communities in South Africa," Shivambu noted.

He sharply denied accusations that the ANC will amend the constitution in to grant immunity from criminal prosecution against a sitting president.

"The ANC is not going to change the constitution to try to protect an individual. The ANC has already got 70 percent in parliament now and it could have done that a long time ago, but it is not going to do that. It is not our intention and we are not going to do that," he said.

Shivambu said the ANC is confident, but not complacent in the upcoming general election.

"It is not complacency, it is just being confident about our victory. It is about being confident about the necessities of almost all South Africans and knowing their credibility and their confidence in the African National Congress," Shivambu noted.

Supporters of Zuma claimed the graft corruption charges against him are politically motivated aimed at preventing the ANC leader from becoming the country's next president. But the opposition COPE contends that if the dismissal of the charges against Zuma was transparent it would give all South Africans confidence that the rule of law was not interfered with.

The ruling ANC faces its greatest electoral challenge since apartheid ended in 1994, although party leader Zuma is still expected to emerge as president when the new parliament meets to elect the head of state.

Some political analysts say the graft charges against ANC leader Zuma have increased political uncertainty in South Africa where economic growth had sharply slowed even before the impact of the global financial crisis.

The opposition Congress of the People (COPE) was formed after former South African President Thabo Mbeki loyalists broke away from the ruling party after he was forced to step down. Mbeki was accused of politically having a hand in the corruption charges against his former Vice President Jacob Zuma.

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