Zuma makes his presence felt – alone

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: File
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: File

Former president Jacob Zuma may have irritated a few people by questioning the state capture commission, which he instituted himself, but he is not about to stop his public lectures on free education.

After a much talked about visit to Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, on Wednesday, he is set to return to the province, this time to address the students at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Zuma, once the most powerful man in the country, cut a lone figure in Mthatha last week.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape says it was not even aware of his visit.

Usually flanked by a number of powerful men and women in the political and business fraternity wherever he went across the country, the former president found himself alone, in the company of noisy students, in the WSU’s auditorium where he delivered a lecture on free education.

The only recognisable face was that of Mawande Ndakisa, a former provincial leader of the ANC Youth League, who joined Zuma at the main table a few minutes after the former president had arrived.

This was Zuma’s first public appearance since media reports surfaced, alleging that he was part of a meeting plotting to remove President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Not a branch leader, a local traditional leader or a member of the clergy was there to welcome him.

Provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayithobi said the ANC had been unaware of Zuma’s visit to the province because it had not been informed of this by his office or by the Bathandwa Ndondo branch of the SA Students’ Congress at WSU, which had hosted him.

Ngcukayithobi added that he was not surprised that Zuma himself had not informed the ANC office in the province because “he is not part of the people that we elected at Nasrec, so he also does not have an obligation – because he is not part of the leadership”.

Had the office been notified, said Ngcukayithobi, its staff could have helped with the arrangements and perhaps have also deployed the regional leadership to accompany him.

But Andile Lungisa, a known Zuma enthusiast, lambasted what he called “cheque collectors” in the ANC who did not want to be seen with Zuma because they were worried of being excluded from the upcoming party list processes ahead of next year’s general elections.

Lungisa said he would be there to accompany Zuma this Friday, when he delivers another lecture on free education at the Nelson Mandela University.

“Other leaders are cheque collectors,” said Lungisa. “Even our movement has been infiltrated by cheque collectors, not revolutionaries. If we had revolutionaries, they were going to come and join the former president.

“Even when former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela visited the province, we used to drive from Port Elizabeth and join them wherever they went in the province, because we don’t only associate ourselves with those who are in office.”

He said people were still thinking of the decisions taken at Nasrec in December, and were unable to get over the factionalism that was rife before the party’s national conference.

“There are people who believe that there are some leaders that should be isolated,” added Lungisa.

“They are worried about making it on to the lists to Parliament and all that. Zuma is a leader. I don’t need permission to associate with any leader of the revolution.

He is not an office bearer, but is a leader. A person who loves the ANC so much; why would we not support him?” Lungisa asked.

Meanwhile, during last week’s address to students, Zuma questioned the very existence of the concept of state capture.

The former president, who is directly implicated in state capture because of his close relationship with the Gupta family, said state capture was nothing but a “politically decorated expression”.

“So, let me ask the question: What is this thing called state capture?

“I am talking to students. I want you to educate me because I never went to any school. I am just saying please, politically, let us not swallow everything that is given to us,” he said.

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