Daniel Friedman
3 minute read
27 Jul 2018
10:15 am

Why Zuma enjoys support ahead of his next corruption court date

Daniel Friedman

A march to the courthouse in support of the embattled former president, growing in size as his appearance nears, shows a resurgence of support for him.

Former president Jacob Zuma was back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday on charges of fraud‚ money laundering and racketeering relating to his role in the arms deal. His case was postponed until November 30, as Zuma’s defence attempts to bring a permanent stay of prosecution that would halt the trial.

The beleaguered former president may have taken some comfort in the fact that he does not have to face the law alone. A motorcade, a night vigil and a walk all culminated in a march to the court orchestrated by the ‘Hands off Zuma’ or #Wenzeni_uZuma campaign.

There also appeared to be significant support from high-ranking ANC executives. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for education Mthandeni Dlungwana was filmed on eNCA at the pro-Zuma march this morning, and journalist Kailene Pillay noted that current KZN transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda and former agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe were also in attendance. Later, KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala was seen in attendance at court.

READ MORE: Zuma back in court on corruption charges

While the ANC was reported to have decided that it would not mobilise its formal structures to support Zuma in court, it said members were allowed to show support in their personal capacity.

At the forefront of the show of organised support for the politician is Bishop Timothy Ngcobo‚ of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa).

He told TimesLive that support for the former president was higher than it was when he was president, and he may be right.

A presidency troubled by scandals, including ‘state capture’, and his links to the Gupta family, as well as the controversy surrounding security upgrades to his Nkandla home, eventually saw him lose power to the point where his preferred candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, lost to Cyril Ramaphosa at the 54th ANC elective conference at Nasrec.

Now that he’s gone, though, a resurgence of support for the embattled former president, particularly in KZN, appears to be taking place. However, The Citizen reported earlier this week that the outcome of the ANC KZN conference may have shown declining support for the former president in his home province.

Supporters see Zuma as the ‘father of radical economic transformation’

Towards the end of his presidency, Zuma embraced the idea of “radical economic transformation”.

In April 2017, Zuma said in an address that radical socioeconomic transformation would be the focus of the remainder of his term.

In September 2017, he said: “We have indicated that we will build a better South Africa for all through radical socioeconomic transformation ensuring that the ownership‚ control and management of the economy is deracialised and is not in the hands of white compatriots only.”

Whether or not Zuma’s support for this idea extended beyond politicking is a matter for debate. However, his supporters do see him as a champion of this cause, and consequently may advance the idea that he is being wrongly targeted for alleged corruption by those who oppose it.

Ramaphosa is seen as ‘protecting White Monopoly Capital’

A post on the Black Opinion blog, seen as a mouthpiece for Andile Mngxitama’s Black First Land First party, who have long supported Jacob Zuma and accused those who oppose him of advancing an agenda in support of white business interests, details why Zuma’s successor will “protect white monopoly capital at all costs”.

The post links Ramaphosa to white business through its assertion that he sold most of his business interests to a company led by MTN executive Phuthuma Nhleko, called Pembani Group, who is alleged to be in a business partnership with Johann Rupert’s Remgro.

A quick search for “Ramaphosa” together with “white monopoly capital” on Twitter shows that many on social media share this view.

Those who support Zuma may therefore feel that the “radical economic transformation” agenda advanced by Zuma has been replaced at the top of the ANC by Ramaphosa’s support for white business interests, and that his corruption trial is as a result of this.


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