Boesak plans to name names

Controversial cleric Dr Allan Boesak says he plans to name names in connection with the missing donor funds that landed him in jail in a potentially explosive book due to be published early in 2009.

Boesak, who burst back onto the political scene last week when he joined the Congress of the People (COPE) in a moment of high drama at the end of its inaugural conference in Mangaung, told the Weekend Argus the book will disclose details of those whom he claims to have protected by remaining silent throughout his 14 years in the political wilderness.

His membership of the splinter party appears to have unleashed a wave of disparagement from the ANC, which has dubbed him an opportunist who came calling, cap-in-hand, for a top job.

Copies of confidential correspondence between the cleric and the ANC leadership, in which he argued his preference for a post with "prestige" as South Africa's ambassador to the UN, were last week leaked to the media.

The Uniting Reformed Church cleric's book on his 30 years as an activist - Running with Horses: Reflections of an Accidental Politician - is due to hit the bookstores in late March 2009.

"It explains exactly where the money went, what it was spent on and names key people who received the money," Boesak said.

Boesak said he had informed ANC president Jacob Zuma about the details he plans to reveal in a chapter about "the politics of the struggle".

Boesak's decision to join COPE came a day before the ANC's decision to parachute in national executive committee heavyweights to take over political control in the province, placing the Western Cape ANC's provincial executive under curator ship.

It's a bid to salvage the situation before next year's national and provincial elections.

Boesak said he would set out in the book why he believes he was made a scapegoat for the "struggle accounting" that led to a probe by the Office for Serious Economic Offences and later, his trial and conviction on fraud and theft charges. His sentence was reduced, on appeal, by half to three years. He spent more than a year in jail.

At issue is money that was donated by the music star Paul Simon and intended to help child victims of apartheid. During Boesak's trial, evidence was led that Boesak kept back a portion of the funds Simon donated.

In his failed bid to get the ruling party to honour a promise he said was made to him when he went to jail, Boesak drew up a statement he wanted the ANC to make public in which it apologises for the trauma caused his family.

It explains that the funds arrived a month after the apartheid government declared a State of Emergency and banned United Democratic Front (UDF) affiliates.

"All of the money was spent on behalf of these organisations and individuals who worked for the UDF and underground for the ANC during that time ... this is the money that Dr Boesak has been found guilty of stealing and defrauding and was sent to jail for," the draft statement reads.

Boesak said that in his book, he will explain why the banning of UDF affiliates meant the money could not be accounted for.

Boesak said he declined to testify in his trial in 1999, primarily because he wanted to protect the names of people who were in sensitive positions during the struggle and had since risen to prominence in the post-1994 ANC government. He maintains that keeping this silence was one of the main reasons for his conviction.

Boesak insists that while he was in jail the ANC Western Cape leadership conveyed a message to him that his name would be cleared and he says any chance of his playing a role for the ANC ahead of 2009's elections would have been conditional on this promise finally being honoured.

When the ANC refused to endorse the statement Boesak then joined COPE, after intense discussions with the new party's leadership about the previous three weeks.

ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus said he had not seen the statement.

He said the ANC never made any promise to Boesak that his name would be cleared.

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