South Africa president denies judicial interference during resignation speech Deirdre Jurand at 9:13 AM ET
[JURIST] South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile; ANC profile] insisted in an official resignation speech [text] Sunday that allegations of his interference with the judiciary in the context of the Jacob Zuma case were incorrect. Top ANC officials called for Mbeki's resignation Friday, and on Saturday Mbeki said that he would resign [JURIST report]. Mbeki said Sunday:
I would like to restate the position of Cabinet on the inferences made by the Honourable Judge Chris Nicholson that the President and Cabinet have interfered in the work the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Again I would like to state this categorically that we have never done this, and therefore never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it wished to prosecute or not to prosecute.
This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the President of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma.
More generally, I would like to assure the nation that our successive governments since 1994 have never acted in any manner intended wilfully to violate the Constitution and the law.
Earlier this month Judge Chris Nicholson effectively dismissed [JURIST report] the latest case against Mbeki's political rival and current African National Congress (ANC) [party website] leader Jacob Zuma [JURIST news archive] on the grounds that Zuma had been deprived of the chance to respond to claims made against him and that "political meddling" in the case by Mbeki and others could not be excluded. Zuma has said that the charges against him were part of a politically motivated effort by Mbeki to upset his plans to run in the 2009 presidential election. He argued that he had both a constitutional and statutory right to state his case before charges were brought. Zuma has been facing corruption allegations [BBC timeline] and other charges for several years. He was first charged with corruption in 2005, but those charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] because prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures.
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