Free Jacob Zuma campaign vows to continue protests until former president is released
Supporters of jailed former president Jacob Zuma will continue to demonstrate until he is freed, suspended ANC member and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus vowed on Friday.
Speaking at an online news conference hosted by Yvonne Katsande of online TV station LoveWorldSat on Friday, Niehaus said the free Jacob Zuma campaign would continue to “mobilise the broad base of a huge number of people” in SA.
“We will continue to do so as peaceful and peace-loving citizens within the confines of the law,” he said.
“But we will not cease and stop until President Zuma is released,” he said, adding that this needed to happen “urgently”.
Also taking part in the conference were former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa, who is under an 18-month suspension from the ANC after calling for a nationwide shutdown in support of Zuma, and political commentator Phaphano Phasha who read out a list of demands on behalf of the campaign to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Along with Zuma's release, the demands included immediate nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank, the renationalisation of SAA, expropriation of land without compensation, a living wage for all public sector workers and guaranteed employment for anyone willing to work.
Campaign members gave the government 14 days to respond to the issues which it said had sparked the ongoing civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Lungisa said the issues of hunger, poverty and unemployment needed to resolved.
“We cannot have 15m South Africans who are not working,” he said. “This needs to be addressed now.”
Asked if he was a “force that seeks to undermine Ramaphosa”, Niehaus said his intention on calling for Zuma's release was to be a force “for stability”.
“My own organisation [MKMVA] already stated in August last year that we are concerned that there will be instability and the likelihood of divisions and factions ... if there is such a rash action as to imprison Jacob Zuma.”
In response to allegations made by deputy minister of state security Zizi Kodwa on Radio 702 on Thursday that the protests and looting were orchestrated, with much blame falling directly on the campaign for Zuma's release, Niehaus said this was a “well-known [apartheid-era] Stratcom tactic” to find a scapegoat.
While a “criminal element” had participated in the unrest, the protests were driven by poor South Africans who had not seen any change since 1994, he charged.
“That frustration has boiled over,” he said. “No-one must be disingenuous enough to try and blame me, the MKMVA or anyone else.”
Though Kodwa was the deputy minister of intelligence, his responses were “most unintelligent”, said Niehaus.
Journalists struggled to ask questions of the panel, due to technical issues.
There was robust commentary on the live chat, however. One viewer asked the panel to find out what had happened “to the R500bn”, in apparent reference to alleged PPE corruption.
Another, “Nomampondo Uzondo”, asked “so where are we protesting to free Zuma? Is he inside the malls?”
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