Zille's Statement That Zuma Is Not Constitutionally /Fit to Govern Is Hate Speech, Says ANC's Phosa

Article excerpt

BYLINE: CARIEN DU PLESSIS

DEMOCRATIC Alliance leader Helen Zille's remarks about ANC president Jacob Zuma not being constitutionally fit to govern bordered was hate speech, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa has said.

Phosa told the Cape Times yesterday the remarks - made by Zille in an open letter to Zuma last week - were "irresponsible" because they could anger some ANC members.

Zille said in the letter that Zuma should step down as the ruling party's presidential candidate, because if he became president of the republic it could be unconstitutional because he faced criminal charges.

She said she had been "reliably" informed that Zuma's imminent presidency could be challenged in the Constitutional Court because "it would create a conflict of interest between your constitutional role as head of state and your status as an accused in a matter that has been brought against you by the state itself".

Phosa, who has a law degree, said this argument would not stand up in court. "There is no legal basis for such a case. There is no such a thing - ask any constitutional lawyer. The only thing happening is that she is catching on an electioneering mould in order to create doubt. Unfortunately, it borders on being very irresponsible, reckless and childish," he said.

A constitutional expert last night agreed with Phosa, saying the argument Zille was proposing was "artificial".

He said the title "head of state" was attached to the office of the president, and not the person occupying it. …