Charles Cilliers
Journalist
3 minute read
6 Jun 2018
6:44 pm

Zuma: I want to warn them, they must keep quiet … they must not provoke me

Charles Cilliers

Ahead of the resumption of his court trial, the former president has quietly threatened his critics not to push him too far.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma addresses supporters gathered outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on April 6, 2018, after appearing for a brief preliminary hearing on corruption charges linked to a multi-billion dollar 1990s arms deal. Picture: AFP PHOTO

Former president Jacob Zuma has issued an ominous warning to his critics, particularly those in the ANC that he feels live in glass houses.

Speaking at a Congress of SA Students (Cosas) event on free education in Durban, where he was the keynote speaker, he made it clear that he feels persecuted and over-criticised. He implied that now that he’s no longer president of the ANC or the country, nothing is holding him back from exposing the secrets of others in politics, especially those who criticise him.

He said: “There are people who like to talk about me, who are provoking me, and I have been keeping quiet when I was the president of the country in respect to them. And it’s not like I don’t have anything to say,” said Zuma. “I’m now not having responsibility of a president … and I want to warn them, they must keep quiet. They must discuss their organisation, not me.

“Because I have things to say about their organisation and themselves. I don’t want to do so because I think I know why I am part of the struggle; why I’m part of the leadership.”

Slowing down for emphasis, he added: “They must not … provoke … me.”

Although Zuma did not mention the ANC directly, it was obvious he was referring to his party and its new leadership, as well as the SACP.

The students gathered in the church erupted in cheers. Cosas has stated that they still intend to support Zuma, especially at his court hearing on Friday.

There has long been speculation that Zuma knows many secrets about his fellow comrades in the ANC and SACP, particularly as he was the ANC’s head of intelligence for many years, and was also the right-hand man of the former head of intelligence for the ANC Joe Nhlanhla.

Recently, a pro-Zuma lobby group confirmed speculation that the formation of a new political party to challenge the ANC is in the offing and that it is expected to be launched soon.

Such a move is expected to split the ANC’s votes ahead of next year’s general elections.

The group believes Zuma was robbed of his presidential term, preventing him from “completing his progressive programmes, including radical economic transformation”. They would like Zuma to be the face of the new organisation, though he himself is not openly part of it, and he has said publicly he will never leave the ANC.

Yesterday, Zuma’s plea to have the corruption case against him delayed was turned down. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams wrote a letter to Zuma’s lawyers on Monday in which he said he “regrettably” could not agree to a “stay of proceedings in all criminal and allied matters”.

Zuma has reportedly run out of money to pay his advocates to mount his defence. He appealed to Abrahams for a stay of prosecution on the basis that the decision on who will be paying his legal costs is currently not resolved.

The matter of who should pay for Zuma’s legal fees came to the forefront after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that Zuma’s legal defence had cost taxpayers R15.3 million to date. The president added that the state would continue to pay Zuma’s fees until the “fees deal” covering the former president has been set aside by a court.

Ramaphosa explained that the deal that was struck between then president Thabo Mbeki and Zuma in 2006 had been based on the provisions of the State Attorney Act. It continues to be in force.

The DA announced it would approach the court to set aside the decision to allow taxpayers’ money to be used to pay Zuma’s legal fees.