Dial a Story: Rasool needs to put SA first, and withdraw
Following allegations that former Western Cape Premier and current ambassador-designate to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, paid members of the press corps to further his political interests whilst Premier, the Department of International Relations & Cooperation is duty bound to withhold his posting, until a full investigation into his conduct has taken place. An ambassador is supposed to represent a country and thus, should be beyond reproach. It is not possible for Mr Rasool to fulfil this requirement with such a substantial allegation hanging over his head. His name needs to be cleared first.
Ideally, Mr Rasool should put South Africa first and withdraw from his appointment of his own volition.
Aside from this most recent allegation, there is a strong case to be made that Mr. Rasool's conduct as Premier in and of itself did not suggest him fit to represent South Africa abroad. The High Court found he had established the Erasmus Commission to pursue a political agenda. There were a raft of corruption allegations hanging over his head, which were not properly interrogated and his abuse of his position, to promote himself and his faction in the ANC, eventually saw even the ANC act to remove him from office. This is not the behaviour of an objective public servant.
The alleged ‘dial-a-story' arrangement Rasool had with Argus reporter Ashley Smith only serves to further entrench this perception.
Recent media reports have revealed that former Argus reporter, Ashley Smith, disclosed in an affidavit that Rasool had paid him in order to further his political interests in the media, payments which Smith received. Mr Smith further alleged that Rasool used him as his "front line of attack" against rivals in the African National Congress (ANC), particularly against provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha.
It is the latest story in a series of blights on our foreign service. It was reported recently that a huge number of traffic violations were unpaid by our dignitaries in the United Kingdom and appointments such as Jon Qwelane - an outspoken homophobe - as ambassador to Uganda, suggest all is not well at the Department of International Relations.
These are serious accusations, and the Department needs to consider the effect on South Africa's reputation in the embarrassing event of Mr. Rasool being recalled to answer to charges of corrupt activities at home.
The right course of action would be to stop the posting until these allegations have been investigated and tested.
I will be writing to the Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, requesting she withhold the deployment of Mr. Rasool until these allegations have been investigated, and their merits tested.
I will also be posing a question to the President, to ask for the Presidency's position on this matter.
Statement issued by Kenneth Mubu, MP, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of international relations & cooperation, July 1 2010
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