ANC suspends Zuma pending rape trial

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has suspended party deputy president Jacob Zuma pending his trial on a rape charge.

    Zuma was sacked as deputy president on corruption charges

    Zuma, an ANC heavyweight once seen as the frontrunner to succeed President Thabo Mbeki in 2009, was charged with rape on Tuesday following allegations made by an unnamed 31-year-old friend. 

    Zuma has maintained his innocence.
      
    The ANC's National Working Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that Zuma will "not act or pronounce in the capacity of deputy president of the ANC for the duration of this trial".

    Zuma had previously said he would quit junior party posts but would not step down as party deputy president.

    The ANC called on "all members of the ANC and its alliance partners … to allow the law to take its course, to respect the rights and dignity of those involved, and to exercise discipline, patience and restraint".

    The opposition has demanded his sacking over the rape charges which come on top of corruption charges that led to Mbeki sacking him as his deputy in June.

    Angry media

    Meanwhile, the South African media lashed out at Zuma's secret court appearance, saying the news blackout showed a contempt for democracy.

    "What's so special about Zuma? VIP treatment in court case"

    The Citizen
    South African daily

    The case was not put on the court roll, and Zuma - who is also facing two charges of corruption in a separate case which cost him his job in June - appeared an hour before the court opened.

    Journalists and photographers were barred from covering his appearance.

    "Is Jacob Zuma above the law?," asked the Johannesburg-based daily The Star in an editorial.

    "This chain of events amounts to treating our democracy with nothing but contempt," The Star concluded.

    Freedom breach

    Another Johannesburg daily, The Citizen, headlined its front page story: "What's so special about Zuma? VIP treatment in court case", quoting lawyers saying the preferential treatment was a "sad day for justice".

    The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) issued a statement slamming what it described as a breach of media freedom.

    "Journalists... are the eyes and ears of the public. The media is a force for good in society and an essential element of democracy - it should be allowed to do its job unhindered," the media organisation said.

    National police spokeswoman Sally de Beer declined to comment on the controversy. "We've taken note and that's all I can say," she told AFP.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.