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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Man of medical mystery: MK party cites ‘no concerns’ about Zuma’s collapse from ‘fatigue’

'He will live to see the elections': Former president and MK Party leader Jacob Zuma allegedly collapsed last week.

Life on the election campaign trail appears to be taking its toll on former corruption-accused president Jacob Zuma who turned 82 on 12 April.  

Zuma has been juggling the courts and campaigning over the past few months. This month, he replaced Jabulani Khumalo as leader of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party.

This means JZ’s face will appear on the national ballot paper for MK instead of Khumalo who was initially registered with the party with the Electoral Commission (IEC).

Jacob Zuma blazing the MK campaign trail

News24 reported this week that Zuma has had to suspend election campaign activities after he collapsed on Wednesday due to fatigue and low blood pressure.

“He is fine now. He fell on Wednesday in Umhlanga, and the doctors said it was fatigue,” said one insider. 

ANC vs MK party: Zuma’s face to appear on ballot, MK allowed to contest elections
Former president and MK party leader Jacob Zuma. Photo: EPA-EFE/ Kim Ludbrook

A relative – who asked not to be named – told News24 that Zuma had another “dizzy spell” and collapsed on Saturday.

He was scheduled to attend a mini-rally on Saturday at the Ibisi Sports Ground in the Harry Gwala district. Despite his face being on the poster, the MK leader failed to make his appearance.  

“But he is OK. He will live to see the elections, don’t worry. He was a bit dizzy, that’s all. He fell here at home in KwaDakwadunuse and it was frightening because he is quite strong, but he is fine now,” the relative said. 

Series of ill-health episodes?

According to the publication, four independent sources claimed that the former president’s ill-health has raised concern among doctors and his security team. 

At least two other sources said it was part of a series of incidents pointing to his frail state of health.

MK party denies claims that Zuma is unwell

MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela, however, rejected claims that Zuma was unwell. 

There are no concerns. What we always do before a blitz, where he is going to be travelling a lot, is that he normally rests for a couple of days.

He also denied that doctors had been monitoring Zuma’s health at home.

“He always travels with a doctor. His motorcade has an ambulance that always has a doctor with it. It’s the same with [President] Cyril Ramaphosa, [former president] Thabo Mbeki, and all of them.

On Thursday, 25 April, the MK party takes its campaign to KwaNxamalala residence (Zuma’s homestead) in what could be viewed as a move to accommodate him.

Track record of Stalingrad tactics and ill-health

For years, Zuma has come under fire for using Stalingrad tactics – along with his ill-health linked to an undisclosed medical condition – to delay court proceedings and avoid facing criminal prosecutions in the Arms Deal corruption case which dates back to the late 1990s.

He has headed to Russia for medical treatment in the past after refusing to undergo an examination by a doctor chosen by the State.

This on the grounds of claiming mistrust over how his health has been addressed in court and at the Zondo Commission.

Medical parole: ‘Sick man dancing’?

Zuma was ousted as president in 2017 and jailed in July 2021 for refusing to comply with an order of the Constitutional Court to appear before the Zondo Commission to face allegations of extensive corruption during his nine years in power.

Msholozi was freed on medical parole two months into his term.

When his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court expired on 7 October 2022, Zuma celebrated at Nkandla, dancing the night away like a young man with his family.

In one of the video clips widely circulated on X, an energetic Zuma pops bottles of bubbly, marvels at fireworks display and dances with his family at his KwaZulu-Natal homestead. Take a look:

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