An event that Black First Land First and Congress of South African Students had punted for weeks turned out to be a damp squib when former president Jacob Zuma, who was the main speaker, failed to arrive.
Other speakers who had been billed to speak included BLF leader Andile Mngxitama, former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Cosas chairperson Penuel Maduna.
The event, which was organised by Cosas under the banner “Thanks the people’s president for free education” was due to take place at the Multipurpose Civic Centre in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg.
At around 2pm, two hours after it was due to start, a handful of ANC members clad in party colours, members of the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association in military uniforms and BLF members who wore T-shirts with the text “land or death” started to leave when it became evident that the event would not go ahead.
Zuma’s spokesperson Vukile Mathabela said the former president was not coming.
Mngxitama accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of sabotaging the event: “We were advised quite late by Cosas leaders that the event has been cancelled. CR17 supporters have put pressure on Cosas national leaders to sabotage the event of today.”
He vowed that Radical Economic Transformation (RET) forces are going to defend Zuma by all means necessary. “They [Ramaphosa supporters] are terrified of the unity of RET forces.
"There is no way RET forces are going to give Ramaphosa votes to finish off president Zuma. We know that president Zuma loves the ANC but the ANC does not love him,” Mngxitama said.
City Press has seen a letter written to Zuma by Cosas secretary-general Nkhabo Khomongoe.
In the letter, Khomongoe states that “as from today onwards, all invitations and directed to the former president will be sent directly from the office of the secretary-general. Please don’t consider any invitation or letter which has not been sent by [the secretary-general’s office],” Khomongoe wrote.