Former president Jacob Zuma has used a virtual prayer meeting held in his honour in Durban to slam the government for his incarceration and to call on his supporters to vote for the ANC in the upcoming local government elections.
The former head of state — currently on medical parole after serving a small part of a 15-month sentence for contempt of court for failing to return to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture — encouraged his supporters to stay in the ruling party despite the internal strike bedevilling it, to ensure it elected the right leaders at its national conference next year.
In a lengthy televised address, Zuma said the judiciary and the Constitution had been used as a weapon against him in a process in which things had “gone terribly wrong”.
Describing the Zondo commission as the “final measure” used against him since 1994, Zuma said it had been manipulated by “those who feared what I represent”.
Describing his parole conditions as “very strict”, Zuma said he believed they were similar to those imposed on activists who were held under house arrest or banned under apartheid laws.
Zuma confirmed that he would be challenging his imprisonment in an international legal forum, saying he had agreed to surrender himself to the police in July to avoid loss of lives, including those of members of his family.
Zuma said that the “revolt” that followed his imprisonment had been sparked by this show of “violence” against him.
He said his supporters should remain in the ANC and not make the “mistake” of either leaving it or voting for independents or other parties on 1 November.
The former president said leaders had been “planted” by “our opponents and enemies” to “kill” the ANC.
“What we thought had ended in 1994 of people who are recruited by our enemies and made them spies … it did not end,”’ Zuma charged. “I have made a call to my comrades and my colleagues that we must vote for the ANC.”
Zuma said he was “unhappy” that even senior ANC members were talking about not voting because of their “anger”.
In a clear rallying call to the party’s radical economic transformation faction, Zuma said that if leaders did not “lead correctly” the membership should “deal with that issue” at the party’s conference.
“We must watch that we do not help our enemies because we are angry, because maybe we don’t like somebody else,’’ Zuma said.
The party holds its 55th national conference next year and will either re-elect the incumbent, Cyril Ramaphosa, or replace him.