JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- The governing African National Congress will not tolerate political violence, South African President Jacob Zuma asserted Monday as 30 of his own supporters were due to appear in court after a clash with opposition supporters in his home district.
The ANC members were arrested Saturday after a clash with members of the Economic Freedom Fighters led by expelled ANC firebrand Julius Malema at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal. The members threw stones at the EFF members who handed over a house to a woman in the area. Zuma's private homestead is located in Nkandla, and is at the center of a major political storm after the government admitted using more than $20 million (200 million rand) of taxpayers' money to finance alleged security upgrades. The upgrades included a swimming pool and a small shop, among other luxury refurbishments.
Elections will be held in the country within the next few months. Zuma told a breakfast meeting for business leaders in the province of Mpumalanga Monday that the ANC does not "approve of violent action against people who are exercising their democratic rights".
"One of the key traits of our movement is its rich history of internal democracy, tolerance for opposing political views and peaceful coexistence with other political parties. The ANC recommits to free political activity in all parts of the country, during this election period and beyond," he said.
"We fought against no-go areas and will be the first party to defend the right of other parties to campaign wherever they wish," he added.
The date for the elections is expected to be announced when Zuma delivers his state of the nation address to Parliament in February.
Zuma also warned Monday that corrupt officials will be made individually liable for all losses incurred as a result of their corrupt actions.
"We have stated that we will intensify the fight against corruption and that public servants and public representatives will be prohibited from doing business with the state," Zuma said.
Zuma said the ANC's manifesto for the upcoming elections states unambiguously that any ANC member or ANC public representative found guilty by a court of law will be expected to step down from any leadership position in the ANC, government and society. Firm action would be taken against those who failed to do so.
He said corruption must be eradicated in the private sector as well as the government.
"We will thus pursue action against companies involved in bid-rigging, price fixing and corruption in past and current infrastructure build programs," he said.
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