- South Africa's ruling ANC party is caught in a row over the failure of President Jacob Zuma to declare his financial interests to parliament.
President Zuma this week was strongly criticised by the opposition for not having declared his interests within the 60-day deadline upon taking office. A presidency spokesman saying there were doubts over the President's obligations to do so yesterday was met with a request to the Public Protector's office to investigate the President.
Today, ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu tried to explain the President's failure to declare his interests. Mr Sokuto, talking to the news agancy SAPA, said the ANC "regretted" President Zuma had missed the deadline, but added the circumstances needed to be understood.
"We have a special case, in that we are dealing with a President who has a large family and therefore it is not easy," Mr Sokutu was quoted by SAPA. He interpreted that government Ethics Codes would also oblige all his family members to declare.
But few hours after Mr Sokuto's regrets, the ANC issued a press release where the party distances itself from the statements by its spokesman. "The comments attributed to Brian Sokutu by SAPA were made in total breach to ANC protocol and also without any consultation with the ANC leadership. The comments therefore do not reflect the standpoint of the ANC on this matter," the sharp note said.
It further announced that disciplinary actions would be made against spokesman Sokuto for his "actions and statements." The party said it regrets "the inconvenience caused to President Zuma and his family through these comments."
The ANC statement sheds little light on the ruling party's views on President Zuma's failure to meet deadlines. There is no assessment on whether Mr Zuma should or should not declare his financial interests.
The statement only says that "the ANC believes that government and parliament have appropriate mechanisms in place to deal with the matter of the declaration of interest by the President of the Republic."
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