Mbeki Insists On Mugabe, Urges Nigeria to Invite Him to Chogm
September 19, 2003
Posted to the web September 19, 2003
There was no additional sanction barring Zimbabwe from attending the Commonwealth summit to be held in Nigeria in December, President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday.
Mbeki reminded the National Assembly that Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth had been for a period of a year, which had passed in March.
He said the decision to suspend Zimbabwe for a year was taken within a very specific mandate.
"The troika decided to impose a maximum sentence of suspension for a year and that has been served. I am not aware of any additional sanctions."
Mbeki and Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo sit on a troika chaired by Australian Prime Minister John Howard tasked with overseeing the Commonwealth's response to the alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in March last year over its poor human rights record and President Robert Mugabe's re-election in a vote that was widely condemned as rigged.
When the initial 12-month suspension ended in March this year, the Commonwealth announced the southern Africaxan country's suspension would remain in place until December.
Mbeki has been pushing for Zimbabwe to be allowed to attend the summit, and Nigeria has indicated it may issue an invitation.
On Thursday the President said a country's attendance at the summit was based on an invitation from the host country.
"The invitation will come from Obasanjo. This is a matter he will deal with. So I think we will await a decision from the host on whether certain recommendations will be accepted."
On Wednesday a spokesperson for the body was quoted as saying that Zimbabwe would not attend the summit even if other African nations wanted it to attend.
"All I can say is that the common practice is that those countries that are suspended do not attend CHOGM," spokesperson Joel Kibazo said on the sidelines of a Commonwealth finance ministers meeting taking place in the Brunei capital.
Also Mbeki yesterday emphasised in parliament that he will not suspend deputy president Jacob Zuma as he was not a court and a person was innocent until proven guilty.
Responding to a written question in the National Assembly from Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon who asked if Mbeki had asked or intended asking Zuma to step down until corruption allegations are refuted or he was exonerated, the president said: "We will not take any disciplinary action simply on the basis of allegations whoever makes these allegations; we always act in respect of the rule of law."
Noting "the president is not a court of law", Mbeki emphasised that a person was presumed innocent until proven guilty. He added that "not a single person in this country has produced any evidence that the defence procurement process was soiled by corruption of any kind."
He was responding to the ongoing debate around the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka not to charge Zuma although he had found prima facie evidence against him relating to corruption in the arms deal.
Responding on behalf of Leon, DA national chair Joe Seremane said that "the fact remains that the accusations against the deputy president ... have undermined the presidency."
Accusing the government of being quick to investigate the investigators (allegations of being an apartheid spy against Ngcuka are to be investigated by a judicial commission of inquiry) Seremane said the cabinet had, nevertheless refused to set up a commission into the arms deal.
The president, who accused the DA of having its own political agenda and not wanting to find out the truth, said that the arms deal had already been probed by three state agencies "and I have the fullest confidence in all the state organs."http://allafrica.com/stories/200309190407.html