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Zuma to decentralise power if elected president

JOHANNESBURG, July 27 – African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma, soon to stand trial on corruption charges, says he would "decentralise" power if elected South Africa’s next president, the Sunday Independent reported.

Politicians and the COSATU labour federation have accused President Thabo Mbeki, who has been in office since 1999, for centralising power in the presidency.

"Once you allow that tendency (of centralising power) you are in danger that the people will not be able to defend their democracy (or) defend their power," Zuma was quoted as telling the newspaper in an interview.

"We must never allow it, it is a dangerous thing," he said, adding that under his rule, the ANC leadership — not him personally — would take decisions on state matters.

Zuma — whose trial on 16 charges ranging from money-laundering to racketeering is to begin next week — added he would prefer to serve only one term in office, and that he would fire incompetent officials.

Zuma, 66, who toppled Mbeki as ANC leader at a party conference last December, was sacked by Mbeki as deputy head of state in 2005 after his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was handed a 15-year sentence for bribery.

Initial corruption allegations against Zuma were struck off the roll in 2006 by a judge who told prosecutors their case was a disaster. The charges were reinstated, however, shortly after Zuma became ANC leader.

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