Supporters of former president Jacob Zuma are planning to give him a warm welcome at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday.
The former head of state, who is returning to the country from Cuba – where he was receiving medical care – is expected to address his supporters for the first time since news of his illness and his subsequent decision to seek medical care in the northern Caribbean country broke.
Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus told City Press that Zuma’s ill health can be attributed to the “relentless pressure that has been placed on him for over 15 years”.
“Zuma has been subjected to numerous court appearances, yet he has already been found guilty by the court of public opinion. We believe that this is where his illness has emanated from.
“It is not just the issue of appearing in court, but it is general vilification that the president suffers in the media and the attitude of finding him guilty without him being found guilty by the court,” Niehaus said.
READ: ‘Zuma is not back in SA’ – Carl Niehaus accuses Parliament of fake news
Another group that has pledged its support to Zuma is the Congress of South African Students (Cosas).
“I can confirm that I will be going to OR Tambo to welcome Zuma. Honestly, a lot of South Africans are bitter regarding how Zuma has been treated by our judicial system, particularly the issuing of a warrant of arrest against him. Hence my conviction that they will turn out in their numbers on Saturday,’’ Cosas secretary-general Teboho Magafane said.
The Radical Economic Transformation forces from the Free State confirmed to City Press that they would be supporting the Johannesburg grouping on Saturday.
Zuma has been subjected to numerous court appearances, yet he has already been found guilty by the court of public opinion.
Poelo Galeboe, a Free State organiser, said they have arranged transport to ensure that as many supporters as possible can attend the event.
“We have met as Radical Economic Transformation members. The plan is for those with cars to assist in transporting people to OR Tambo to go and support Zuma. We will then take it from there if more people need to be transported,’’ Galeboe said.
The likes of Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, former minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Des van Rooyen and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo are expected to be present.
A source within the grouping also told City Press that five other mayors were expected to be present but did not divulge any names.
In KwaZulu-Natal, where most of the former president’s staunch fans reside, there are also plans to welcome Zuma once he goes back home.
The event is expected to take place next week Sunday.
Meanwhile, Radical Economic Transformation members in Johannesburg are planning to slap Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola with a defamation lawsuit.
During the ANC’s workshop on land expropriation without compensation last week, Lamola said the group was trying to enforce state capture.
This was after the group held a press briefing last week Wednesday to announce its support for the former president and share plans as to how they would go about it.
READ: ‘If it means we have to die, that is fine’ – Zuma backers plot his defence
The grouping has had a revival after the Pietermaritzburg High Court issued a warrant of arrest for Zuma after he failed to appear in court for his arms deal case.
But the warrant was stayed until May 6, when the case is scheduled to resume.
The National Prosecuting Authority requested the warrant and it was seen by some people as a tough stance on Zuma’s continued absenteeism in the court case.