Black First Land First (BLF) threatened to disrupt proceedings at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday.
An impassioned BLF leader Andile Mgnxitama told the media: “It might be a good time today to disrupt the proceedings at the Zondo commission and ask him when he will be bringing minister Pravin Gordhan here – the big criminal that is running the country to make sure there is no change. This is not about Zuma, it is about the economy of this country which is in the hands of white people.”
He was speaking outside the commission’s Parktown venue before later being denied entry to the proceedings because of his party regalia.
Another Zuma loyalist in attendance was former finance minister Des Van Rooyen who was seated alongside the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson and Zuma ally Carl Niehaus in the public gallery.
Van Rooyen said: “It will be good if really we want to unpack this notion of state capture to give everyone a chance to present their stories.”
Former North West premier Supra Mahumaphelo was also among the high-profile politicians in attendance.
“I am not taking sides, I am here to support Zuma as one of the leaders of the ANC,” Mahumapelo said.
Zuma’s son, Duduzane – who himself just won a legal battle at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court when he was acquitted of culpable homicide – was there to support his father who has also stuck by his son’s side during his court appearances.
When Zuma entered the venue, his supporters in the venue give him a standing novation and started chanting “Zuma, Zuma” as he made his way to the witness chair.
Zuma loyalists have banded together to form a group calling itself the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Forces.
It was anticipated by the group that about 5 000 people would flock to the venue in support of the former president but only a handful of suporters had made their way to the Parktown venue before the start of the proceedings at 10am.
“It is not a matter of numbers in my organisation, what is important is that as RET champion we have created a platform for people who support RET, we are waiting for people to show up” said leader Nkosinathi Shezi.
A large delegation from the media, police officers and members of the public arrived earlier to fill up the venue in anticipation for Zuma’s testimony.
Zuma alleged that for 20 years he has faced character assassination.
“The character assassinations that I have faced, over 20 years, this is one of the clearer sources that I know. There was a plan to deal with Zuma and Zuma has been dealt with all the time,” he said.