Mbeki: We must respect judiciary and prosecutors

Former President Thabo did not mention any names, but it was clear that he was referring to Jacob Zuma's recent failed challenge in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to have state prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the arms deal corruption trial.

Former President Thabo Mbeki at the ANC manifesto launch in Tshwane on 27 September 2021. Picture: Fikile Mbalula/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Thabo Mbeki has criticised his successor, Jacob Zuma, for bad-mouthing the judiciary and prosecutors to get out of trouble.

He said it was to be expected that those who were being prosecuted for corruption would allege an abuse of state power, but he said it shouldn't be a deterrence.

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Mbeki interacted with businesspeople and ANC supporters in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday night during a party campaign event ahead of Monday's local government elections.

He did not mention any names, but it was clear that he was referring to Zuma's recent failed challenge in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to have state prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the arms deal corruption trial.

The charges date back 16 years, and Zuma argued that Downer failed to uphold the standards of prosecutorial independence and impartiality needed for a fair trial.

"I think we need to have some respect for the people who sit in our judiciary and so on, including the prosecutors. I don't think they are that easy to influence and, therefore, lose their independence. But I'm saying that in many instances people who are doing wrong things in order to avoid that matter being acted upon, will use this argument of abuse of State organs and so on. But the ANC should not be deterred by that kind of argument."

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