“No one in South Africa can be grabbed by lions, while people look on,” is what former President Jacob Zuma told thousands of supporters who gathered in the overcrowded Market Square of Pietermaritzburg, following his appearance in the city’s high court on Friday morning.
“You make me feel that the struggle for freedom was not in vain,” he continued, as he spoke about his appreciation towards the unrelenting support he had received from his supporters.
Zuma faces charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering, and addressed his supporters, who pledged their unwavering commitment to the now embattled former president, with some supporters even taking to climbing up trees around the Square so that they could get a better glimpse of him.
A supporter of former South African President Jacob Zuma waits for him to speak after his court appearance in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
“It’s the second time my matter is heard here in Pietermaritzburg. I’ve been in and out of court and the same case against me has been overthrown twice because there are no grounds to prosecute, and the finding was that there is political interference. After many years we are back here,” Zuma told the crowds as they cheered him on.
The case, in which Zuma has been accused of accepting bribes allegedly facilitated by his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik from French Arms dealer Thales during the 1990s, has now been postponed to November 30, but supporters of the ANC veteran member are adamant that the outcomes of the case will work in Zuma’s favour.
“I was still deputy president when I was charged ... the matter was heard in Bloemfontein, then Braamfontein. I was then elected and the case was dropped and now that I’ve left the presidency they are charging me again,” he continued.
Zuma, who was represented by a new legal team, said: “They don’t play around. They are determined to put a stop to my prosecution.”
Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters outside court. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
Zuma also spoke about the need for ANC supporters to cast their votes in order to secure a two-thirds majority in the country.
“There are many things we need to fix and those things require a lot of votes. We used to have two-thirds majority as the ANC, I don’t know what happened but I want us to go back to a time when we can get two-thirds of the vote. Stop convincing each other that you will not vote because you are angry or because you don’t want ‘this’ leader. That is wrong, you end up digging your own hole. We must vote in our numbers and achieve two-thirds so we can use it to fix that which is broken,” he said.
Zuma also spoke about the importance of securing Africa’s natural resources in order for them to only be exported internationally under certain terms and conditions.
“I was speaking to other African leaders about how the white [people] colonised us and took natural resources. That was not God’s will, so why can’t we as African leaders lay down the law through the African Union so that we control our own resources? How can we export all our riches and remain poor? We must give those terms about our resources. But if we are not united, they will keep taking and Africa will remain an empty vessel,” he said.
Jacob Zuma shows off his signature dance moves after his court appearance in Pietermaritzburg. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
Zuma also received praise from various leaders who were in attendance, including Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama.
“If Zuma’s appearance was a soccer match, the score would be Zuma 1 and 0 to white monopoly capital,” Mngxitama said, when he addressed the crowd of supporters. The BLF held a #HandsOffZuma march during the early hours of the morning before his appearance in court.
He championed the Brics summit currently under way. Zuma was heavily criticised for his allegiances towards China and Russia when he was president.
“There are enemies of Brics. Msholozi, Brics is your legacy. We must defend Brics. We must defend Russia. We must defend China.”
Former ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus spoke about the support that former president Nelson Mandela would have given Zuma, if he was still alive.
“He knew that a person is innocent until proven guilty,” Niehaus said.
“Let us recommit ourselves today again to radical economic transformation, to the expropriation of land without compensation, to make sure that the announcements that Msholozi made with the pronouncement of free education will be pulled through,” he said.
Supporters of Jacob Zuma sing before his court appearance in Pietermaritzburg. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
He also extended his sympathies to Zuma on the death of his son, Vusi, a few weeks ago.
Vusi was the youngest son of Zuma and his late wife Kate Mantsho.
The youth also had their say when Panuel Maduna, regional chairperson of the Congress of South African Students Johannesburg South, also expressed his support for Zuma and called for the implementation for free tertiary education to be followed through, after Zuma first made the announcement in December last year.
Zuma’s legal team was led by Mike Hellens, who argued for the case to be dismissed, but instead Judge President Mjabuliseni Madondo postponed the case to November.
The former ministers of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Des van Rooyen, and public service and administration, Faith Muthambi, were also present in court today, as well as regional leaders from the ANC, including ANC eThekwini regional chair Zandile Gumede. They watched intently as Madondo delivered the postponement.
Zuma appeared in court in June, after the case was postponed to July following the issue around the state funding Zuma’s legal fees.
Former president Jacob Zuma sits in the dock in Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday (July 27 2018). Zuma is charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. Picture: Phil Magakoe/Pool Photo/AP
But according to state prosecutor Billy Downer, the funding issue had now been resolved and the state was ready to proceed with the case.
Madondo said that everyone had the right to a free and fair trial.
“Mr Zuma, will you please stand up,” Madondo asked Zuma, where he stood alone in the dock.
“By concern your matter is provisionally adjourned to the 30th of November 2018 in this court. You are required to attend court on that day, and you’ll be released, as before, on your own recognitions. I assume that you know what may follow if you decide not to attend court on that day,” Madondo said to Zuma, as Zuma smiled and nodded.
“Which I don’t think you’ll do,” Madondo continued.