Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has declined to comment on allegations of rape, after earlier indicating he would make a statement

BBC News:

His lawyer said he would not comment before investigations were complete.

Mr Zuma was sacked as deputy president in June, and charged with corruption. He has denied the charges.

In the last two weeks he has come under pressure amid reports that police are investigating rape allegations, which he also denies.

Mr Zuma is still deputy leader of the governing ANC party, but there has been speculation that he could resign this post if rape charges are brought against him.

"We are advised that such investigations remain incomplete and that a further period is warranted in order to complete such investigation under the direction of the National Prosecuting Authority," lawyer Michael Hulley said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reports that Mr Zuma was under investigation for rape first emerged in the South African press more than two weeks ago, although no charge has yet been laid.

ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlante said last week that the rape allegations were being "regarded very seriously by the ANC," but that the party would not act on allegations that were still being investigated.

Since then, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party - both allies of the ANC - have denied that they ever backed Mr Zuma as a successor to President Thabo Mbeki.

As recently as early November, Cosatu and SACP supporters were prominent among the crowds that demonstrated in support of Mr Zuma when he appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on corruption charges.

However, the ANC Youth League, another organisation that has been vocal in its support of Mr Zuma, reaffirmed this position on Monday.

"Our view remains that we support Jacob Zuma for the presidency," Youth League president Fikile Mbalula said, but hinted that this position could be reviewed if Mr Zuma were to be prosecuted for rape.

Mr Zuma has a large following among ANC members, and the corruption case has caused the party its biggest internal crisis since it was elected to power in 1994.

The corruption charges stem from the trial of Mr Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who is appealing against a 15-year jail sentence for fraud and corruption.

ANC in turmoil as Zuma confirms rape probe

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