Durban - Former national prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli has not spoken to President Jacob Zuma for eight years, since the day in 2005 when he broke the news to Zuma that he would be charged for corruption.
Speaking on Friday at the Durban launch of his book My Second Initiation, Pikoli, who is still an ANC member and still refers to Zuma as “comrade”, said charging his former commander had been difficult.
“I’ve always regarded comrade JZ as my leader, but also the ANC has a policy that we should not hero-worship leaders.
“We follow the cause. We joined the ANC not because of leaders but because we believed it was the appropriate vehicle for our national liberation.
“That is why I didn’t hesitate to charge anybody who had to be charged. What I did, I did in the course of carrying out my functions as a public official. I’d never seen it as a personal matter, so to answer your question, I have not spoken to him since 2005 when I informed him of the decision to charge him.”
Heading a commission of inquiry into police conduct in Khayelitsha, Pikoli said he had no immediate plans rejoin the civil service.
But the ANC was still the only political home he knew.
“Some people in the ANC ask me why I still bother to continue being a member, because I’m so ‘defiant’. But I always remind them that comrade Oliver Tambo told us that as cadres of this organisation we need to draw a line between unquestionable loyalty to the ANC and unquestioning loyalty. My loyalty to the ANC is not unquestioning, it is unquestionable. That’s why I also state in the book that my children say I exhibit symptoms of a battered spouse; I’m refusing to leave this abusive relationship. They don’t understand where I come from. They were born in exile.”
As head of the NPA, Pikoli oversaw a number of high profile prosecutions, including the charges of corruption and later rape against Zuma of which he was subsequently acquitted.
He also led the charge against ex-national police commissioner Jackie Selebi and MPs implicated in the Travelgate scandal.
In 2006, then-president Thabo Mbeki set up a commission headed by Frene Ginwala to look into Pikoli’s fitness to hold office. He was ultimately fired by Zuma in 2009.
He also voiced his concern at the slow erosion of political and civil liberties which, he said, should be guarded against.
“The ruling party needs to listen to what the people are saying so that they’re not accused of arrogance of power. Organs of civil society serve as watchdogs, and there has to be a partnership between government and civil society in general. ”
Asked to comment on the “Nkandlagate” controversy, Pikoli said while the security of the president should never be compromised, society was justifiably concerned when security considerations were used to suppress information which should be in the public domain.