ANC structures stand prepared to help ex president Jacob Zuma all through his trial when it resumes following Friday’s decision by arraigning authorities to restore charges against him.
While asserting Zuma’s right to a fair trial and reiterating the party line that Zuma should be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of law, all his staunch defenders – the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), the ANC Women’s League and the ANC Youth League in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal – said there was no room to abandon their leader.
Zuma faces 16 criminal charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering and money laundering. He has said before he was waiting for his day in court but over the years he has been fighting to stay out of the dock.
The veterans’ association was already planning to visit Zuma at his Nkandla home to express its unwavering support.
“As toughened liberation fighters, with our loyalty forged on the battlefield, we know what true comradeship means. There may be others who turn out to be opportunists and fair-weather friends – but we in MKMVA will certainly not be counted among them,” said Carl Niehaus, the association’s spokesperson, yesterday.
“True comradeship and friendship is tested not during good times, but amid the storm. Similarly, Comrade Jacob Zuma can be assured of our comradeship and support in these challenging times.”
The organisation is led by one of Zuma’s close allies Kebby Maphatsoe.
“This must be a matter of genuine concern because there can be no doubt that every citizen – including all our judges – has been bombarded and influenced by the avalanche of negative publicity, character assassination and kangaroo courts conducted against Comrade Zuma,” said Niehaus.
Women’s league secretary-general Meokgo Matuba said: “We will be there to give support to one of our own. We have observed many things especially on cases relating to political matters.
“Only the truth must come out. No other unfair tactics must grasp proceedings,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate we are in the situation in the organisation where one of our own has to face such charges but we will let the law take its course and we believe that the justice system in South Africa will do a fair trial.”
The popping of Champagne corks by DA party leader Mmusi Maimane to celebrate Zuma’s charging has irked the veterans’ association, which said this showed his party’s “utter disdain for any sober and fair legal process”.
Youth league chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Kwazi Mshengu said its members would stand by Zuma’s side and warned against Zuma being on trial through the court of public opinion.
He contradicted president Collen Maine who told City Press that the youth league would consider a way forward once a meeting was convened.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said party members would apply their own discretion: “At this stage the NEC [national executive committee] doesn’t have a formal position on individual members attending court proceedings. Such will remain the preserve of the individuals.” – Politics staff