South Africans gather in support of Zuma before jail deadline

Published July 4, 2021
Supporters of former South African President Jacob Zuma, who was sentenced to a 15-month imprisonment by the Constitutional Court, walk to his home in Nkandla on Saturday.—Reuters
Supporters of former South African President Jacob Zuma, who was sentenced to a 15-month imprisonment by the Constitutional Court, walk to his home in Nkandla on Saturday.—Reuters

NKANDLA: Hundreds of supporters gathered in a show of solidarity for former South African president Jacob Zuma outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, as the deadline looms for him to hand himself over.

In an unprecedented ruling, the constitutional court told Zuma on Tuesday to hand himself over by Sunday to start a 15-month jail term for contempt of court after he repeatedly refused to give evidence to corruption investigators.

His supporters, mainly members of the African National Congress’s Umkhonto Wesizwe military wing, have been camped outside his home in Kwa-Zulu Natal province for weeks.

Donning traditional leopard skins and ostrich feathers and wielding spears, shields and clubs known as “knobkerries”, men known as “amaButho” or Zulu regiments marched in the streets of Nkandla, singing songs of praise dedicated to Zuma.

Bare-breasted women in elaborate necklaces and headbands danced and sang as they paraded. “The reason I am here is because I love Zuma,” one supporter said.

“When he was in leadership we had no electricity problems, there was no lockdown or Covid.” Tension has been bubbling this week as members of the MKMVA military veterans’ association threatened that the country would be destabilised if the former leader was apprehended, promising to form a human shield around Zuma.

Fearing a showdown, the ruling ANC said it had postponed a scheduled meeting of its top National Executive Committee this weekend.

Numerous convoys of provincial local leaders, including the ANC secretary in Kwa Zulu Natal Mdumiseni Ntuli and provincial premier Sihle Zikalala were spotted at the homestead.

Zuma ally Carl Niehaus said that the former president was in his homestead meeting spiritual leaders on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2021

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