One week after being acquitted of rape, Jacob Zuma has been reinstated as deputy president of South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC. The ANC’s National Executive Committee says it accepts without qualification the judgment in the trial. A long-time family friend had accused Zuma of rape. English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua spoke to VOA reporter Delia Robertson in Johannesburg about the decision.
“I think they stuck pretty much to what had been said at the time Jacob Zuma was charged with rape. He offered to withdraw from his duties as deputy president of the African National Congress for the duration of his trial and obviously pending the outcome of that trial. Following his acquittal he announced quite categorically he planned to resume his duties. And although it wasn’t a cut and dried matter, the National Executive Committee decided to meet and discuss the matter first. He is back.”
Zuma resumes the position despite the face that he is awaiting trial on corruption charges, possibly in July. Robertson says, “That doesn’t surprise me. The African National Congress has consistently had a position in cases of this nature. And this is not the first time. They do not necessarily suspend people from the party or from positions of an official nature pending the outcome of a trial because they say each person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
Among those reacting to the ANC’s decision to reinstate Jacob Zuma as the party’s deputy president is Patricia De Lille, a Member of Parliament and founder and president of the Independent Democrats Party. From Cape Town, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the decision.
“I think it’s a strategic decision by the ANC rather to have Jacob Zuma inside the party so that they could give him work to do and monitor and control him, rather than to have him outside of the structure of the ANC. Because what has become very clear during his trial that there are some cracks that are beginning to show inside the ANC and especially along tribal lines, which could spell a lot of danger for the party. Because they now need to consolidate before the 2007 National Congress. And I think it’s more a strategic decision. The disappointment really is that they have not given him a warning about his utterances around HIV and AIDS and having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman. They should have really rebuke him about that so that they could send a message out to their supporters in the country at large that that is simply just not on for any leader.” De Lille will be one of the witnesses against Zuma at his corruption trial.