South Africa’s National Police chief Jackie Selebi Sunday resigned as president of Interpol (international Police) after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it would charge him with corruption. Selebi had earlier tried and failed to have a court block the NPA from bringing charges against him. But Selebi, who reportedly enjoys the support of President Thabo Mbeki, says he is stepping down to allow the law to take its natural course.
Partisans of the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) are accusing the Prosecuting Authority of targeting leading members of the party, including party president Jacob Zuma. Rok Ajulu is a professor of international relations in South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Pretoria that the corruption case against Selebi is dividing the nation.
“Of course South Africans have acted differently to his resignation. There are those who blamed the NPA for targeting him. And you will recall that a day before his stepping down, he had approached the court to force the National Prosecuting Authorities to stop prosecuting him. On the one side the debate here is that why should the NPA deliberately target the commissioner of police, and there are those who argue that the legal process should be allowed to take its course,” Ajulu said.
He said the charges against South Africa’s police commissioner are fermenting divisions among South Africans despite the fact that they have been ongoing for sometime.
“The Selebi case is something that has been going on for a long time starting from the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble. And the NPA has consistently thought to associate Selebi as very colorful character in the criminal underworld. These are allegations so we don’t know what the facts are. Selebi on the other hand contends that this is political targeting, and the rank and file of the ANC are not quite happy about what they call targeting of key ANC people and of course the case against Zuma. So this has really divided the country,” he noted.
Ajulu said some South Africans alleged that President Mbeki is behind the prosecution of some key personalities in the ANC.
“There has been a controversy about that. You will recall that about a month back when Selebi was targeted and the former head of the NPA was suspended, the criticism against the president was precisely that he was protecting Selebi. Now of course Selebi is being tried, so that argument more or less fades off. But the question been asked is that double standards are being applied one against Selebi and the other against the president (of the ANC). But I think the most important point is that this puts the country in a very awkward position,” Ajulu said.
He said some partisans of the ANC think the NPA is involved in a crusade against leading members of the party and would stop at nothing to achieve that objective.
“From the point of view of the ANC is the call that a number of these issues have been dismissed as conspiracies, and particular conspiracies by the NPA, which is seen as staunchly anti-ANC. And the contradiction is that the NPA and the scorpions were planted by the ANC, but it has been pointed out that since they came to power they have consistently targeted senior ANC members; and they look at Toni Yengeni from Western Cape, and of course the celebrated Zuma case,” he pointed out.
President Thabo Mbeki reportedly placed Selebi on extended leave Saturday, a day after prosecutors said they would charge the police chief with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, charges Selebi denies.