Mbete on Khwezi: I don’t want to deal with it

ANC chairperson and presidential hopeful Baleka Mbete has dodged confirming if she believes that President Jacob Zuma raped Fezekile “Khwezi” Kuzwayo.

Mbete was interviewed by Radio 702 host Karima Brown on Monday night when she was asked if she believes Kuzwayo.

“You are raising a painful matter because she (Kuzwayo) is no longer alive. I believe that I don’t want to get into this matter. The courts dealt with it,” Mbete said.

Mbete is the second woman candidate campaigning to be the next ANC president who has refused to take a clear stance on Kuzwayo’s allegation. Earlier, Lindiwe Sisulu was asked the same question by 702 host Eusebius McKaiser and she responded: “I believe she (Khwezi) believes she was raped”.

In May 2006, the Johannesburg high court acquitted Zuma of rape charges laid by Khuzwayo in 2005. Khuzwayo was forced into exile and died in October 2016. She was criticised for making allegations against Zuma by members of the ANC at the time, including Julius Malema and the ANC Women’s League.

Mbete continued to defend Zuma during the interview last night, saying the president should be allowed to end his term of his office respectfully.

“He’s the choice of the ANC, he was elected by branch delegates for two terms and we owe it to our legacy to let him finish off his term in dignity,” she said.

There have been rousing calls for Zuma to step down because of state capture and corruption allegations against him. These demands have come from both within the ANC and outside of the party, as veterans and stalwarts have told Zuma to take accountability for his actions.

When asked if she believes Zuma is fit to be president, Mbete replied: “I don’t understand the question”.

“He has led us and he has contributed to the leadership,” she said.

Speculation has mounted that the party’s elective conference in December will be a disaster given the infighting and factionalism that has seen chairs flying in provinces.

But Mbete tried to instil confidence that the conference would go ahead without chaos. She even reminded delegates that though South African DJ Black Coffee will be playing in Soweto at the time, the conference should be prioritised.

“Our conference will not collapse. It will start on 16 December. We know Black Coffee will be there but we urge members not to go there but to attend the conference,” she said.

The ANC elective conference will be held at the Nasrec centre in Soweto until December 20. Currently, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa are the two frontrunners to take the party presidency.

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