As Jacob Zuma made his appearance in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Monday for his arms deal corruption case, several senior ANC leaders and supporters of the former president showed up in their numbers to stand with him.
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and KwaZulu-Natal Premier and ANC chair Sihle Zikalala were chief among those who attended court proceedings in their individual capacities.
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The trial was postponed to 26 May 2021 after Zuma’s previous lawyers, Mabuza Attorneys, withdrew their legal services.
Although some of Zuma’s supporters were not clad in ANC regalia as ordered by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) in 2018, others defied the party’s highest decision-making body and wore their ANC regalia in support of Zuma.
One of his notable supporters who Zuma would have wanted by his side in court on Monday is ANC stalwart Meshack Radebe, who died in February after a short illness.
Radebe was Zuma’s close ally and often supported him in his legal woes.
The appearance of the ANC’s bigwigs also comes as the party grapples with its step aside resolution that requires all party members facing criminal cases to step-aside pending the finalisation of their cases.
Magashule, who is charged with corruption in the Free State, last week took the ANC to court for suspending him and wants the High Court in Johannesburg to overturn his suspension. He also wants the court to confirm his counter-suspension of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
He wrote a letter ordering Ramaphosa to step down as president over allegations of vote buying during his CR17 ANC presidential campaign in 2017. However, this has been dismissed by the ANC saying Magashule had no mandate or authority to suspend its president.
These are the high profile figures who are supporting Zuma in his corruption case:
- Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule
- Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma
- KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair Sihle Zikalala
- ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli
- ANC MP Bongani Bongo
- MKMVA spokesman Carl Niehaus
- Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo
- ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni
— Marxist (@Kgomo389) May 17, 2021
Zuma and his co-accused French arms dealer Thales are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal struck back when Zuma was KZN’s MEC for Economic Development, in the 1990s.
He is facing 16 counts – including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering – while Thales is facing four counts.
Zuma’s new legal team led by Advocate Thabani Masuku also told the court it plans to apply for prosecutor Billy Downer’s recusal from the case.
The application is expected to be lodged on Wednesday.