A militant President Jacob Zuma lashed out at ANC veterans at a rally in eDumbe Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, organised to celebrate the party’s first municipal elections victory there. His supporters also used the event to attack Zuma’s critics, who have been calling for his removal because of his relationship with the Gupta family and their alleged capture of government departments and parastatals through Zuma’s patronage.Wearing a grey jacket, black slacks and a yellow ANC shirt, Zuma was resolute in the face of calls for his term to be cut short. Regarding calls for his resignation or impeachment, Zuma said he had been to jail before and survived. “Even if I am arrested today, I am used to it. I was in jail for 10 years, so you cannot scare me,” he said.Zuma said nongovernmental organisations and opposition parties, which “ran” to the courts after losing battles in Parliament, had a “misinterpretation of democracy”.He added that ANC veterans, who had written an open letter calling for his dismissal, did not belong to any ANC “structures” and were out of line.“When you write a letter you send it to a person, not the whole world,” Zuma said.The veterans include Rivonia Trialists Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg.His backers went on the offensive yesterday against increasing public calls for him to step down, saying he would complete “the five-year mandate” voters gave him.Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who is a key Zuma ally and a member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), told the rally that Zuma’s conscience would not guide him, as secretary-general Gwede Mantashe suggested this week, following the release of the damning State of Capture report authored by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.“Your conscience will not guide you, but ANC branches will,” she said. ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma, who accompanied the president to the rally in an SA National Defence Force helicopter – and with an even larger than usual security contingent – said the party’s branches had elected Zuma and would defend him.“Those who want to touch Zuma must start with the branches,” he said, to massive applause from the crowd, bussed in from nearby Pongola and Ulundi. “Those are the people who elected Zuma in Mangaung.”The provincial secretary said the president was being targeted because of a shift in ANC policy, following its adoption of a resolution on rapid economic transformation at the party’s Mangaung conference.He said the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal would “defend” the president to ensure that “five families” no longer controlled 70% of the economy.KwaZulu-Natal was not the only province backing Zuma. In North West, the provincial ANC reiterated its support for him.North West provincial secretary Dakota Legoete said no Premier League had influenced their position – referring to the pro-Zuma lobby group comprising premiers Supra Muhamapelo in the North West, Ace Magashule in the Free State and David Mabuza in Mpumalanga.The party called a briefing yesterday following its provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting, where Mahumapelo – in his capacity as North West ANC chairperson – was quoted as saying that Madonsela’s report was more like “street talk” because it had not been tested in court.Legoete said they were calling for Zuma and others implicated in Madonsela’s report to take it for judicial review so “they can have reservation of their rights ... Some people are complaining that they were not heard.”Legoete said Madonsela was wrong to dictate to Zuma how he should appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture – and was, “in essence, saying” that a commission Zuma appoints “will not be independent”.He said the PEC also resolved that new Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane should “expand her scope of investigations in relation to the state capture to include the economic atrocities and state looting that happened prior to the 1994 democratic dispensation”.The ANC in the province threw its support behind National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams, in the wake of calls for him to resign – saying such calls were the “opposition’s plot to cast doubt on the state organs with the hope of a regime change”.And ANC Youth League secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza told City Press: “Anyone who says the president will not last until December (2017) says so because they are plotting something. They are having secret meetings to make that happen.”He said the league believed that the scope of the judicial inquiry should be “opened up to include other branches of state”.“That means we must go further to investigate the extent to which the judiciary itself is captured. We need to then start going through the accounts of some of the judges who are serving in the Constitutional Court and check where their allegiance lies.”Youth league president Collen Maine agreed: “They must come; we will be there waiting for them.”Maine, who is recorded in Madonsela’s report as having refused to comply with the investigation, said he was seeking legal advice and called Madonsela “a liar”.He said it was she who did not respond to his questioning her about why she wanted information about his house and salary, given that he was not a government worker but was employed by the ANC. Maine is also calling for Madonsela to be disbarred.The ANC’s anti-Zuma faction willattempt to call for Zuma’s head at the final NEC sitting of the year, which takes place at month-end. But the likelihood of Zuma’s detractors having their way is slim.ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile said, while the fight against Gordhan’s politically motivated prosecution was temporarily won, the war had not ended. Mashatile was one of the party leaders who attended this week’s march in Pretoria in support of civil society group Save SA, alongside senior ANC members, including Max Sisulu and his NEC colleague Derek Hanekom.“It doesn’t feel good as a member of the ANC to see what the ANC has become,” he said.“I do not think the fight has been lost. Many people in the NEC agree that we cannot go on like this. I am sure we will have a robust debate in the NEC.”Solly Phetoe, the deputy general secretary of labour federation Cosatu, said those implicated in Madonsela’s report must face the music, even if it meant they were investigated for criminal conduct.Phetoe said Cosatu leaders “cannot suppress or undermine” the debate about Zuma’s fate at its next central executive committee, taking place in two weeks.“Nehawu [a Cosatu affiliate which called for Zuma to resign this week] is a constitutional structure of Cosatu. We cannot ignore issues they raise. The ANC said it would fight corruption, but we are yet to see that,” said Phetoe, referring to the Premier League, which he said had “taken over the ANC”.“It is there influencing decisions and has a hand in influencing decisions together with the Guptas,” he said.