Although former president Jacob Zuma received a hero’s welcome during the ANC’s voter registration campaign last weekend, it not clear at this stage whether the party will continue to do so if he is charged for corruption by national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.
Abrahams is soon expected to announce whether or not to charge Zuma for payments he received from jailed tenderpreneur Schabir Shaik while he was KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC.
ANC provincial elections head and former secretary Super Zuma said Zuma’s deployment for voter registration drives in Durban and Empangeni last weekend had been ‘“very, very successful”.
“Both the programmes … were beautiful. People were very happy to see the former president there along with the current leadership of the ANC,” Zuma said.
The former president conducted walkabouts along with provincial convener Mike Mabuyakhulu and co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala in Empangeni on Saturday and attended a church service in KwaMashu with Zikalala on Sunday. Zuma was also part of a door-to-door registration campaign in north Durban after the service.
Zuma said his more famous namesake’s presence had dispelled doubts that he would continue to campaign for the party after being ordered to resign as head of state by the governing party’s national executive committee.
“There had been some confusion. I think it helped a lot to clarify that he is still a member of the ANC and that he is still campaigning for the ANC. It was very effective,” Zuma said.
Zuma was unwilling to speculate whether the ANC would continue to use the former president to campaign in the province if he is charged by Abrahams for corruption.
“I don’t have a mandate to comment on that,” he said.
Mabuyakhulu is himself an accused person, having been charged earlier this year about the disappearance of R28-million from his then department, economic development. It was spent on a 2013 North Sea Jazz Festival that never took place.
Mabuyakhulu, who was released on R50 000 bail, has continued to play his role in the provincial task team despite this and led the voter registration campaign with the former president last weekend.
Neither Mabuyakhulu nor Zikalala responded to calls from the Mail & Guardian. ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe was not available at the time of writing.
Political analyst Xolani Dube of the Xubera Institute for Research said that the decision might prove “unwise” for the ANC if Zuma chose to use the platforms it provided to build a campaign around his court appearance, should he be charged.
“This served as a kind of catalyst around the pending court cases,” Dube said. “It also could confirm certain suspicions that he was being sidelined for no good reason. People can now question why he was removed and is now being deployed to campaign for the ANC,” Dube said.
Zuma said that the appeal by his disbanded provincial executive committee to the Supreme Court of Appeal against a Pietermaritzburg high court order compelling them to leave office, which was set for March 23, would not continue. But it would persist with an appeal to the appeal court against the decision to declare the 2015 provincial elective conference unlawful.
“We withdrew the appeal against the execution order as there is no longer urgency in the matter. The main appeal will continue because it deals with the interpretation of the ANC constitution,” Zuma said.