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Zuma on the offensive as July court appearance looms

Former president Jacob Zuma has again told his critics to stop “provoking him”, dismissing the corruption case against him as “political.”

Speaking from a stage set up across from the Durban high court to several thousand supporters, Zuma again proclaimed his innocence, pledging loyalty to the governing party.

Zuma repeated the threat he made to the South African Communist Party (SACP) earlier in the week. Towards the end of his speech to a Congress of South African Students (Cosas) Youth Month event at the Durban City Hall, Zuma launched a broadside against his critics. In a scathing tirade, the former president said that many of those who are claiming he is corrupt are themselves guilty of corruption.

READ MORE: Zuma: They must not provoke me

Msholozi spent some time updating his supporters, many of whom were wearing ANC colours, on the proceedings inside court before going on the offensive against his detractors.

He explained that when he had faced the same charges a decade ago, Judge Chris Nicholson had found that the case was “political.”

Zuma expressed that he is “tired of those who are talking about me” and was no longer willing to be “nice”.

Zuma was joined on stage by recalled North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, axed ministers Des van Rooyen and Faith Muthambi and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) leader Carl Niehaus.

With them was a group of church and business leaders who had coordinated the night vigil and march in his support. Other regional ANC leaders — including Eastern Cape ANC councillor Andile Lungisa — delivered messages of support in a bid to undermine the national executive committee (NEC) decision of distancing the party from showing solidarity with Zuma during court proceedings.

Mahumapelo said this decision by the ANC NEC was wrong. “We believe in him,” Mahumpelo said.

Mahumapelo added they would “use the structures of the ANC” to “correct” the mistakes the party had made in this regard.

MKMVA leader Carl Niehaus attacked Zuma’s critics, saying that the SACP had gone too far by accusing Zuma of splitting the ANC and being behind the new party being mooted by his supporters.

READ MORE: JZ’s apostles to launch new party

“Enough is enough. No comrade must try and call a leader of the calibre and stature of Msholozi someone who divides the ANC. If they do so they are telling blatant lies. If they do they so they are trying to provoke us,” he said.

“When Msholozi said two days ago don’t provoke me, all of us repeated with him, don’t provoke us,” he said.

Inside the court, Zuma appeared for a few minutes before Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo — along with Christine Guerrier who is representing French arms dealer Thales — before the case was adjourned until July 27. His normally high-powered legal team had been reduced to Michael Hulley alone.

Zuma is facing one count of racketeering, two of corruption, one of money-laundering and 12 of fraud stemming from 783 payments from Thales and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

Thales — represented by Guerrier — faces one count of racketeering, two of fraud and one of money-laundering. In total, Zuma is alleged to have received just over R4-million for favour and protection from Shaik and Thales, then known as Thint, in the mid-1990s.

State prosecutor Billy Downer SC told the court the case had been provisionally set down for November 12 to allow Zuma’s legal team to make an application for a review of the decision by National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams to reinstate the corruption charges against Zuma. This has not materialised.

Downer said Thales’ legal team had given notice of their request to have the case against them withdrawn two days ago, so the state had not had time to consider their argument.

Downer said the adjournment would allow the Thales request — and any applications they would bring should the state refuse to withdraw the corruption charges — to be dealt with before the next hearing.

Downer said that the applications by both Zuma and Thales would be heard together in order to secure a “realistic” trial date for the main case by the next court hearing, which will be held in the Pietermaritzburg high court because of renovations taking place at the Durban courthouse.

Hulley told the court that he should be able, by the next court date, to give an update about Zuma’s legal representation. Hulley said that the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters had brought applications challenging the existing agreement in terms of which the state is funding the former president’s legal team.

Hulley said the presidency had filed a notice of its intention to abide in both matters. Hulley said he had, on May 24, written to the presidency requesting clarity as to whether they would fund Zuma’s defence in the interim. There has been no response as yet, Hulley said.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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