Zuma: They must not provoke me

(Sumaya Hisham/Reuters)

(Sumaya Hisham/Reuters)

Former president Jacob Zuma has lashed out at his detractors in the ANC, saying they must not “provoke” him as he was no longer constrained from making his own disclosures by occupying public office.

Zuma, at the end of his address to a Congress of South African Students (Cosas) Youth Month event at the Durban City Hall, launched a broadside against his critics ahead of his appearance in the Durban high court on corruption charges on Friday.

Zuma had been invited to the event, attended by thousands of his supporters from the ANC in the province and its leadership, to speak about his decision last December to introduce free tertiary education. However, at the end of his speech, Zuma appeared to turn on the ANC national executive committee (NEC) which had called on members not to wear party regalia if they went to court to support him. 

The South African Communist Party has also blamed Zuma for the challenges the ANC is currently facing and for being behind the move by church leaders to start a new political party.

Earlier this week Zuma’s supporters undertook to support him at court despite the NEC ruling, with business lobby groups, church organisations and the Black First Land First preparing for a vigil on Thursday night and a mass march to welcome him when he appears in court.

“They must not provoke me,’’ Zuma said to massive applause from the audience. 

“There are people who like to talk about me, who are provoking me.”

“I have been keeping quiet when I was president of the country in respect to them. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I’m no longer having the responsibility of being president. I want to warn them that they must keep quiet,” Zuma said.

“They must discuss their organisation, not me, because I have things to say about their organisation. I don’t want to do so…I think I know why I’m part of the struggle, why I’m part of the leadership,” Zuma said.

At Zuma’s earlier appearance, his supporters included civil society groups and members of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership, including chairperson Sihle Zikalala and his deputy, Premier Willies Mchunu. Both are expected to attend again on Friday in their “personal capacity.”

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