South Africa: Vavi belittled on audits

President Jacob Zuma has put Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in his place over his call for lifestyle audits of politicians and public servants.

Addressing the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association yesterday, President Zuma also manoeuvred carefully on the storm raging over ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and his business dealings, while emphasising that the youth leader had done nothing wrong.

While not stating clearly whether he supported or opposed Vavi’s recent call for lifestyle audits of politicians and top civil servants, Pres Zuma said the issue was unclear to him as it had been discussed only in the media and not with him, within the ANC or at alliance meetings.

Mr Vavi’s call for the audits took on added resonance after revelations that businesses linked to Malema had received more than R140 million in tenders from the Limpopo government – allegations Malema has denied.

Pres Zuma said that as far as government officials and public representatives were concerned, there were mechanisms for them to declare their business interests. But he was “not certain” whether the call for lifestyle audits had been “spelt out in detail and what that is exactly”.

“Maybe it referred to people who are not being targeted (by audits as government officials), maybe business people or whoever. I think the matter could be put before us and (we can) engage it and hear exactly what it means. “The manner it has been put has been too broad, too general,” he said.

“Until the issue has been properly cleared and debated, we can discuss it. I don’t want to give a categorical answer to a matter that has not been cleared.”

Asked about Malema’s business dealings, Pres Zuma said: “I don’t have that information… Malema is not a government employee.” “I am not sure whether Malema has no right to have businesses,” he added, saying he didn’t want to “get into that debate”.

Malema was not under any obligation to declare his interests as he wasn’t employed by the state.

Source: thestar online, 20100224

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