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'Zuma is no Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe': Zakes Mda

02 February 2021 - 09:00 By kyle zeeman
Zakes Mda was shocked at the comparison.
Zakes Mda was shocked at the comparison.
Image: Gallo Images / Tammy Booyzen

Award-winning SA author and activist Zakes Mda has rubbished comparisons between former president Jacob Zuma and anti-apartheid struggle icon Robert Sobukwe.

Zuma made reference to Sobukwe in a statement on Monday announcing that he would not co-operate with the state capture inquiry despite a ruling by the Constitutional Court compelling him to do so.

In the statement, released by his foundation, Zuma said he did not fear going to prison should his decision be considered a violation of the law.

He further claimed the Constitutional Court ruling had “created a special and different set of circumstances specifically designed to deal with Zuma by suspending my Constitutional rights rendering me completely defenceless against the commission”.

He said this conjured up “memories of how the apartheid government passed the General Laws Amendment Act 37 in 1963 which introduced a new clause of indefinite detention specifically intended to be used against then PAC leader, Robert Sobukwe”.

“The parallels are too similar to ignore given that Sobukwe was specifically targeted for his ideological stance on liberation. I on the other hand am the target of propaganda, vilification and falsified claims against me for my stance on the transformation of this country and its economy.”

The comparison sparked heated debate on social media, with Zakes weighing in.

“I knew Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (who we nicknamed Prof after he got a job as a teaching assistant at Wits). I can assure you, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is no Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe,” he wrote.

He later added “when everything else fails, martyrdom is the best refuge”.

While many agreed that Zuma could not be compared to Sobukwe, others slammed Zakes, saying that Zuma had not explicitly said he was Sobukwe.

Zakes told his critics to “read to understand”.

Some also called for him to sit this one out, claiming it would take away the respect he should be enjoying in his twilight years.

Zakes responded to the criticism, explaining that he did not need their validation or respect.