Lekota plans to fight ministers' accusations
"I have been greatly maligned by these manufactured accusations that bear no semblance to the truth whatsoever"
CONGRESS of the People (Cope) president and parliamentary leader Mosiuoa Lekota will fight accusations made by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and backed up by Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa that he personally deployed the army during the 2005 to 2008 Khutsong uprisings.
Yesterday, Lekota said he would again write to the deputy speaker to request that Shabangu and Molewa retract the statements they made during last week's parliamentary debate into the Lonmin Marikana protests.
"I have been greatly maligned by these manufactured accusations that bear no semblance to the truth whatsoever," Lekota said.
During the debate, Shabangu challenged Lekota's comments that the use of deadly force by police was an infringement on the constitutional right to life.
She said Lekota, as then minister of defence, had been "more brutal" in unleashing the army in Khutsong.
Molewa came to Shabangu's defence, saying she could personally attest to Lekota's heavy handedness.
However, Lekota said objective academic research confirmed that at no stage were the army deployed to restore order.
"It is clear that ministers Shabangu and Molewa deliberately misled the house and wilfully and maliciously impugned my good name, and in doing so abused the privilege of the house."
Lekota said the Constitution also stated that the decision to deploy the army was solely in the hands of the president at the time, Thabo Mbeki.
Should a decision have been taken, the speaker of parliament would have a record of this, he said.
In terms of parliamentary processes, MPs and cabinet ministers are protected in the national assembly through parliamentary privilege.
Lekota also threw out a challenge to the ministers to repeat the allegations publicly so that he could approach the courts for relief.
Molewa said yesterday she felt Lekota had deliberately chosen not to hear exactly what Shabangu had said.
"She said he wanted to [send in the army], she didn't say he did. That was what I agreed with," Molewa said.
She said she was also not aware of a request by Lekota for an apology and that parliament processes needed to be followed.
Shabangu's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.