Tea with Zuma: a timeline of events that have had SA talking
Neither EFF leader Julius Malema nor former president Jacob Zuma has disclosed the agenda of the meeting that held the attention of South Africans since Wednesday last week.
Malema tweeted Zuma and asked to urgently meet him over tea. The meeting request came after the former president’s refusal to appear at the state capture inquiry due to his “relationship” with deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, the chairperson of the inquiry.
Two weeks ago the Constitutional Court ruled that should Zuma fail to appear and testify before the inquiry on February 15 without any sound cause, he would be in breach of the commission’s act and the ruling by the apex court.
Speculation brewed about whether Malema sought to convince Zuma to reconsider his stance on the inquiry.
Last year Zuma called for Zondo to recuse himself as inquiry chairperson after he accused the judge of bias.
Malema told Newzroom Afrika last year that Zondo should not be recused from the inquiry, and said instead Zuma must face accountability for his alleged involvement in state capture.
“That is the man who must be chained. That one we must go fetch from Nkandla and he must come and answer here. Zuma engages in extremely stupid things and doesn’t want to be held accountable,” he said.
Here’s the rundown of the meeting:
February 3: Malema reaches out to Zuma
South Africans were left with more questions than answers last Wednesday after Malema reached out to Zuma via Twitter and asked him for “an urgent meeting”.
Zuma responded promptly and told the firebrand leader he was more than happy to host him at his Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina was the middle man who facilitated the meeting between the political rivals. He said Malema and Zuma “contributed to the constitutional being of SA” and would provide their insight on SA’s democracy.
EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo told TimesLIVE the meeting between the two was a matter of national importance.
February 5: EFF mum on details of meeting
Pambo would not be drawn to “spill the tea” on what the meeting was about. Some had speculated that Malema would try to convince Zuma to appear and testify at the state capture inquiry.
Asked about this, Pambo said he could not speak for the former president.
Masina, former EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu and ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni were among the guests who attended the meeting.
February 5: Malema hits back at critics
Among the critics of Malema and Zuma’s meeting was Wits University vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib.
Habib described the meeting as “the devil’s pact” and compared it to the 1939 alliance between former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin
Malema hit back at the comparison, saying the pact happened when President Cyril Ramaphosa became Zuma’s deputy in 2017.
Malema also dismissed ANC veteran Derek Hanekom after he criticised Zuma for agreeing to the meeting.
“What a joke! The man who called me an enemy agent for having coffee with [former EFF secretary-general] Godrich Gardee now invites the president of the EFF to his home for tea," Hanekom said.
Malema told Hanekom his discussion with Zuma would be “a meeting of black people.”
February 7: speculation brews
The Sunday Times reported that sources who spoke to the publication on condition of anonymity said the meeting was not as spontaneous as it was portrayed to be on Twitter. They said it had long been in the works.
They also claimed the meeting was pursued by ANC members who are pro-Zuma and anti-Ramaphosa’s leadership.
The sources said among issues discussed in the meeting was Zuma’s defiance of the ConCourt order.
The former president was advised to reconsider his stance as he could face serious legal implications. A source told the Sunday Times the former president stuck to his guns and said he will not go to the inquiry.