IN PICS | Jacob Zuma brings the moves to the delight of 1,000-strong fan club
The sounds of ululating and chanting Jacob Zuma fans reverberated at Freedom Square outside the Pietermaritzburg high court on Wednesday, where the former president appeared at his fraud and corruption trial.
About 1,000 supporters gathered in the demarcated area that had been set up for a mini-rally where Zuma and senior ANC officials, including suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala, spoke.
Zuma and French arms company Thales are facing fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges in connection with the 1999 multibillion rand arms deal.
The case was postponed to July 19 to allow the state enough time to respond to the former president's special plea application in terms of section 106 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
A beaming Zuma earned whistles and cheers from the crowd as he performed his signature dance moves before thanking his supporters.
“I want to thank you all. Especially for today, when you came to support me in numbers. I hope that come the end of this trial, fairness will be seen — as well as the fact that I have never stolen anything from anybody,” he said.
“Biasedness of the law seems to be rising. I wish to see the law working fairly and not be biased, in order for us to respect it. If the lawmakers don’t respect the law, how will we? I trust that your presence here will help us all to do the right thing.”
Magashule made a short appearance, greeting the crowd before introducing Zikalala. The KZN premier reminded the crowd of Zuma's long history with the ANC.
“We are here to say since 2005 we have been with Nxamalala. He has led this country and we know his work. We know that he stands with the people in townships, the poor, and in rural areas. We know that he has addressed places of violence and brought peace.
“We know him fighting for economic freedom for the poor. We know that through Radical Economic Transformation (RET), today we have black industrialists. We stand with you as the ANC because we know your great work,” said Zikalala to rapturous applause from the supporters.
Duduzane Zuma proved as popular as his father when he briefly addressed the crowd.
Earlier, Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus maintained his support for Zuma and criticised the long delay in the trial.
“I am here to support president Zuma and the national executive committee of the ANC has said that ANC members are perfectly within their rights to support president Zuma. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is directly involved in the organising of this event in their support for president Zuma,” he said.
Niehaus, Magashule and party heavyweight Tony Yengeni face possible disciplinary action by the party for alleged disparaging remarks they made against ANC leaders after Zuma’s case was adjourned last week.
“We've been coming here for the last 20 years. I have been attending every single court appearance of the president. As far as I'm concerned, this is a politically manipulated and motivated trial. It has to come to an end,” said Niehaus.
Among the supporters who attended was Mandla Zulu, branch secretary of the Bunny Dladla Branch in Ntabamhlophe. He said he and others had travelled from Estcourt to show support for the former president.
“We are here as branches to show support for Jacob Zuma, our former president. We know that he has a long history with the ANC and led us very well,” he said.
Zulu added that Zuma's supporters believe in his innocence, and that they will always stand by him.
“We will never leave him. We know that the case is motivated by politics — that's why we also ask Mr Downer to step aside, as the former president has asked,” said Zulu.