If Zuma is arrested it will put the ANC in peril, says Mdumiseni Ntuli

There will be devastating consequences for the party if the former president is booked, says KZN ANC

10 February 2021 - 17:12
KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli says the provincial leadership has met with former president Jacob Zuma regarding his appearance before the Zondo commission and plans to meet with him again.
DISCUSSIONS, DISCUSSIONS KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli says the provincial leadership has met with former president Jacob Zuma regarding his appearance before the Zondo commission and plans to meet with him again.
Image: Abhi Indrarajan

Arresting Jacob Zuma will have profound and devastating implications for the ANC.

This was the warning from KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli during a press briefing on Wednesday, at which the province pledged support for the former president.

“The implication on the unity and the cohesion in the ANC will be profound because, as you would have seen now, people have already been visiting him from all the ranks of the ANC.

“In many instances those are comrades who have taken sides on the matter, who have taken the side of former president Jacob Zuma. And I am sure there are many others like them who have not had the opportunity to visit him at his homestead in Nkandla,” he said.

Ntuli said the provincial leadership met Zuma last Wednesday in a bid to understand his reasons for defying a Constitutional Court order compelling him to appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture.

At the weekend, EFF leader Julius Malema and his delegation met Zuma at his Nkandla homestead to discuss the implications of him not appearing before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

On Thursday, members of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) are also expected to pay him a visit.

Ntuli said the province was concerned about Zuma’s recent public statements. He said during their meeting at the ANC’s headquarters in Durban, Zuma detailed his concerns and stated reasons for his stance.

“The first thing he raised concerns about is deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo and their historical relationship. His bone of contention was that justice Zondo does not qualify and will not have the objectivity and impartiality required when presiding over the case or any matter involving president Jacob Zuma.”

Ntuli said Zuma stressed that his right to remain silent had been revoked.

“If he [Zuma] gets arrested, it is perfectly clear that society will be divided into two halves. There will be those who believe his arrest is a travesty [of] justice and others who will be convinced he deserved to be arrested because he violated the decision of the highest court in the land,” said Ntuli.

He added that, sooner rather than later, the arrest of former president Zuma would then be appropriated to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa or some leaders of the ANC.

“When that happens, divisions in the ANC will run deep and the ANC will lose its ability to lead our people towards the creation of a national democratic society.”

He said there were some within the party who were calling for Zuma to appear before a disciplinary hearing, but Ntuli said that should be decided by the party’s national structures.

“We are not here talking about an ordinary chap, we are talking about the former president of the movement, a serving member of the national executive committee (NEC) by virtue of being a former president.

“Our view is that all of us who are concerned within the ANC must, to a larger extent, call upon to the national officials of the ANC to rise to the occasion to engage with the former president and make him understand the implications of the position he has adopted, given the fact that the national executive committee, including [at] their last meeting, reaffirmed its support [for] the commission of inquiry,” said Ntuli.

It would be premature to rush to court and haul Zuma to appear before a disciplinary hearing, he said.

Instead, the NEC should try to persuade Zuma to “understand that while he may have the courage and the bravery to serve another term of imprisonment, that must not happen at the expense of the movement”, added Ntuli.

During the almost three-hour meeting with Zuma, the provincial leadership also addressed the future of the ANC and reflected on the role of former presidents.

“We are going to have another session with former president Jacob Zuma, hopefully during the course of this week and before the weekend, and we are also attempting to reach out to the national officials for that kind of meeting,” he said.

Leaders in the ANC needed to put aside personal feelings and put the organisation first, he said.

“We are really convinced that what is really at stake here is not what happens to Zuma as an individual, it is what then become the consequences to the movement, which has a profound responsibility to lead our people,” said Ntuli.

At the end of their discussion, Ntuli said Zuma recognised the consequences for the party and welcomed intervention by the provincial executive committee (PEC) and NEC.

“He said to me: ‘Well, look, I am in your hands’.”

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