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'Zuma delaying to appoint SIU head'

Questions have been raised about President Jacob Zuma’s commitment to fighting corruption.

President Jacob Zuma announces a cabinet reshuffle on 12 June 2012. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - A number of organisations on Sunday said President Jacob Zuma's failure to appoint a full-time head of the special investigations unit is raising questions about his commitment to fighting corruption.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Corruption Watch, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have all voiced concerns.

Advocate Willem Heath stepped down as SIU head exactly 10 months ago, and no new head has yet been appointed.

He resigned following remarks he made to the City Press newspaper about former president Thabo Mbeki's alleged involvement in prosecuting President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma became embroiled in corruption-related controversy when his financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was charged and later convicted with corruption and fraud.

Mbeki then relieved Zuma of his duties as his deputy after he was accused of abusing his power.

Corruption Watch head David Lewis said he did not understand the delay in the appointment.

"It doesn't square with fighting corruption. The SIU has been a very effective body."

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Debbie Schafer, said the units' members were concerned about the future.

"They have very serious concerns that the unit is heading in the same direction as the now disbanded Scorpions."

Acting ANCYL president Ronald Lamola is also distressed.

He said the lack of speed in appointing someone who is qualified showed a lack of commitment in curbing corruption.

"We are worried, we think it must be quickly resolved."

The Presidency has not said why there has been such a long delay.