Hanekom calls Zuma spy allegations a 'premeditated strategy' to divert attention from Zondo commission

Former tourism minister and ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom has called being labelled an enemy agent by former President Jacob Zuma a "premeditated strategy to divert attention from the real work of the Zondo commission to uncover the truth about allegations of corruption and state capture".

Hanekom said he was "shocked, offended and pained by the events that have unfolded over the last weeks" in a statement released after his legal counsel, Carol Steinberg, argued in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Friday that Hanekom went to jail for treason because he had in fact served as an ANC spy during the apartheid era and years of political turmoil.

Steinberg said an enemy of Zuma was not automatically an enemy of the ANC, News24 reported earlier. 

READ: I never said Hanekom was an apartheid agent, Zuma argues

Hanekom is suing Zuma for R500 000 for defamation following a tweet on July 25 in which the former president referred to him as a "known enemy agent".

In a statement released after the court proceedings, Hanekom explained that "former president Zuma made an allegation at the Zondo commission last month that comrades Siphiwe Nyanda and Ngoako Ramathlodi were apartheid spies".

"I filed a motion seeking relief for defamation of character. I note from his court papers that former president Zuma put up no proof that I was an apartheid spy. His counsel conceded in court that the former president 'does not question my Struggle credentials' and that he does not 'regard me as an apartheid spy'."

"In my view, I can attach no other meaning to his statement than that he is accusing me, as he has comrades Nyanda and Ramathlodi, of being an agent of the apartheid state. These accusations are irresponsible and dangerous, particularly in our country which witnessed the horrific 'necklacing' of alleged spies in the 1980s," said Hanekom. 

The former tourism minister in the Zuma administration stated he was "pleased that this matter has been ventilated in court. While the judge has yet to rule in the case, my view is that our being labelled as spies is a premeditated strategy to divert attention from the real work of the Zondo commission to uncover the truth about allegations of corruption and state capture".

"The argument that the statement about me was a reference to conspiring with 'enemies', namely the EFF, is absurd to say the least."

News24 previously reported Hanekom confirmed he had met with EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee, but told News24 there was nothing untoward about the meeting.

He was the subject of allegations made by EFF leader Julius Malema that he had handed a list of MPs to the party who would vote against Zuma in a bid to oust him as head of state.

"In a constitutional democracy, describing an opposition political party as an enemy is preposterous. Besides, the work of parliamentarians by necessity includes engaging colleagues on opposition benches, debating and convincing them of the soundness of our ideas," said Hanekom in his statement.

"Furthermore, as a proud long-serving member of the ANC, I am committed to the objective set out in our ANC constitution 'to unite all the people of South Africa, Africans in particular, for the complete liberation of the country from all forms of discrimination and national oppression … and transform South Africa as rapidly as possible into a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic country'." 

Hanekom said the party owed it to "future generations, in honour of those who led us to democracy, including our first democratically elected president, Nelson Rolihlala Mandela, comrade Ahmed Kathrada - who would have turned 90 years old this week - and all who sacrificed to usher in a new era, to unite and renew our collective commitment, across all formations of society, and throw our weight behind President [Cyril] Ramaphosa to rebuild our country."

He added economic growth and prosperity, reversing inequality, unemployment and poverty required South Africans to put "all hands on deck".

"A lot has already been achieved, including the start of the restoration of the credibility and integrity of the NPA and SARS.

"I call on all South Africans to live out our national motto 'united in diversity', make a firm commitment to zero tolerance of corruption in any form and respond to the 'Thuma mina' call of President Ramaphosa to build the country our Constitution envisions.

"This is not going to be achieved by anyone but ourselves," the statement said.

Zuma said Hanekom's defamation case against him, was a matter the ANC should deal with - not the courts, Business Day reported.

Judge Daya Pillay reserved judgment after both legal team's put forward their arguments.

She has promised to deliver judgment as soon as possible.

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