Friday’s “tea” encounter between Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and former president Jacob Zuma has apparently been long in the making despite it being portrayed as a spontaneous invite on social media, according to a Sunday Times report.
The paper reported that sources familiar with the matter claimed the meeting at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, in KwaZulu-Natal, was part of a strategy being pursued by so-called “progressive forces” within the ANC opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership.
The meeting was also attended by Zuma’s staunch supporter in the governing party, Tony Yengeni, and the former national chairperson of the EFF advocate Dali Mpofu.
The get-together followed Zuma’s statement on Monday that he would defy a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) order compelling him to appear before the State Capture Commission this month. The former president, who has been widely criticised for his controversial stance, said he did not fear being arrested.
According to the Sunday Times, the Zuma-Malema talks followed a series of discussions between Malema and Zuma’s close allies – Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina and former ANC Nelson Mandela Bay councillor, Andile Lungisa.
Sources with intimate knowledge of the encounter told the publication Zuma’s guests underscored the serious legal implications he could face over his ConCourt defiance of the State Capture Commission.
They asked the former president to reconsider his decision, but he apparently stuck to his guns. His next appearance at the State Capture Commission is scheduled from 15 to 19 February 2021.
The colour of tea early in the morning. pic.twitter.com/itmpy4KSCJ
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) February 6, 2021
An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member who supports Ramaphosa told the paper they were aware that Zuma’s allies were holding private meetings with Malema. Another supporter of the president said the tea meeting was not a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, the EFF has remained quiet on what was discussed during the meeting.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe