The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has defended its decision to gather outside former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, to protect the former president from being arrested for defying a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) order to appear before Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture.
MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus told The Citizen on Monday that the MK vets elected to join ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal outside Zuma’s residence in order to express their support for him.
This follows their meeting with Zuma last week in which they undertook to oppose any attempt to arrest him for his defiant stance.
“When we say we want to protect president Zuma, people immediately want to say this will be a standoff in violence, that’s not the intention. The intention is to be there and give our support to him [and] to protect him,” Niehaus said.
“We sincerely hope that there will not be a foolhardy attempt to arrest president Zuma. We don’t believe that it’s in the interest of the country, nor in the interests of the ANC.”
Niehaus said it was their democratic right to gather outside Zuma’s home and show him their support.
“The provocation in this instance has been the consistent pushing for the arrest of president Zuma. That is the provocation, not the fact that supporters of Zuma are coming out and saying, ‘this is enough now, we cannot continue to have these consistent attacks and threats against president Zuma’.”
He said the contingent of about 100 MK vets would be deployed 24/7 and their deployment would be funded by “donors” who support Zuma.
Niehaus said the soldiers would be “camping out there for as long as it is necessary”.
“We will assess the situation as it unfolds but for now they are there on an indefinite basis,” he said. “Obviously we will rotate so that the people don’t get exhausted and all of that, but there are sleeping arrangements, tents have been pitched, food is being provided, ablution facilities are also arranged.”
Niehaus also said Zuma was fully aware of the supporters gathered outside his home.
“He is very grateful for the support that he has received,” he said.
Zuma’s no-show at Zondo commission
Meanwhile, Zuma stuck to his guns on Monday not to appear before the commission.
In a letter to the commission, dated 15 February, Zuma’s lawyers said he was still waiting for the outcome of his Pretoria High Court application challenging Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s decision last year not to rescue himself from hearing their client’s testimony.
Zuma was scheduled to appear before the commission from 15 February 2021 to 19 February 2021.
His lawyers also believe the summons issued for his appearance at the commission is irregular and not in line with the ConCourt judgment in January.
However, Justice Zondo dismissed Zuma’s reasons for not appearing before the inquiry as compelled by the ConCourt.
“In that application, the point is made quite clear that the commission was aware that Mr Zuma intended to launch a review application in regard to the recusal application and it was contended by the secretary of the commission that that would be no grounds for him not to appear before the commission in the meantime,” Zondo said.
“He and his lawyers knew that this was one of the points that were being made by the commission before the Constitutional Court.”