Zuma's fans say enemies will fail

2017-12-28 13:45
President Jacob Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - Supporters of President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday rallied behind the embattled leader amid calls for him to step down as the country’s first citizen.

ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture MEC Bongiwe Moloi Sithole had travelled to Zuma’s Nkandla home town where they addressed more than 5 000 local residents attending a senior citizens Christmas bash organised by Zuma.

“This is a president who is being persecuted for siding with the poor and pursuing policies meant to address the injustice of the past, something which previous presidents had failed to do,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini, who is also the Social Development minister, shared the stage with Zuma at a time when pressure is mounting for the newly-elected ANC top brass led by party leader Cyril Ramaphosa, to recall Zuma, who faces a slew of criminal charges as well as allegations of state capture.

The former ANC president also angered some within the party after his decision last week to appeal the recent court judgment ordering him to establish a commission of inquiry into state capture. At its recent elective conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, the ANC called for the state capture commission of inquiry to be established “as soon as possible”.

According to Zuma critics both within and outside the ANC, keeping him as the country’s president until the 2019 will cost the ANC at the polls.

Dlamini dismissed those calling for Zuma’s removal as puppets of the west.

Her speech painted a rosy picture of Zuma, delivered amid Maskandi music tunes by the likes of iZingane Zoma and Shwi noMtekhala. “The most painful thing about what these people are saying is that they are being used by western forces in a desperate attempt to shape our own policies. They tried to get the ANC to remove him at national executive committee (NEC) meetings but failed.

“They went to Parliament and also failed, I don’t have any doubt this time around they will also fail,” she said.

The NEC, which is the ANC’s highest decision-making structure between conferences and with the power to remove Zuma, is scheduled to decide the former ANC’s fate within the next few weeks.

In 2008, citing challenges presented by two centres of power, where the ANC president is not the country’s president, the NEC recalled then president Thabo Mbeki after he had ceased to be ruling party leader.

Alongside Zuma’s die-hard supporters such as ANC Youth League president Collen Maine and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo, who also attended Wednesday’s event, Dlamini is one of the NEC members expected to vociferously oppose any moves to recall Zuma.

In a veiled response to Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s Christmas Eve call for the NEC to remove Zuma, Dlamini said it was disappointing that “some church people have now abandoned their duty to pray for social ills to focus on politics”.

“Instead of praying for the sick to get better and for the orphans to find comfort, some church people are praying for Zuma to be removed.

“It is strange that a church person is praying against someone who did a lot to address the HIV problem in this country, someone who has always sided with the poor,” she said.

Sithole-Moloi told the crowd that attempts to remove Zuma as the country’s president would be met with fierce resistance.

“We want him to continue the good work that he has been doing, he is not going anywhere.”

When Zuma finally took to the podium, the embattled president confined his speech to wishing senior citizens well, shying away from the subject around his future as the country’s number one citizen.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg

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