ANALYSIS

Beam me up: What Zuma told the ANC top six in virtual meeting

By Ferial Haffajee 8 March 2021

Deputy President David Mabuza. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo) | ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Getty Images / Bloomberg / Waldo Swiegers) | ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg / Getty Images) | Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile. (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi) | ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alon Skuy) | ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Lulama Zenzile)

The ANC says the meeting went well, but all indications are that the former leader will continue to cold-shoulder the Zondo Commission.

The mountain did not come to Mohammed – and Mohammed did not go to the mountain. Instead, they met virtually. For former president Jacob Zuma, to have the governing ANC’s top six officials traipse to his home at Nkandla would have been the cherry on top of a range of visits in the past month.  

But the officials did not do so, and Zuma decided to Zoom them instead, meeting virtually in a meeting that ended on a cryptic note on Monday.

“The National Officials had very positive and constructive discussions with former President Jacob Zuma,” said possibly the shortest ANC statement in recent history. The meeting was called to twist Zuma’s arm into cooperating with the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. 

Spokesperson Pule Mabe would not be drawn on the meeting’s content, but News24 reported that Zuma missed a court deadline to file a responding affidavit to the contempt of court application brought by the commission. The former head of state had until Monday to file an affidavit setting out his case before the Constitutional Court hearing on March 25.

This indicates that he will not defend himself at court, in which case the commission’s secretary, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, has recommended a two-year jail term for civil contempt of court. A jail sentence will play right into Zuma’s hands as the former president is best placed in a victim position. It will also allow him to continue to position the commission as being in a witch-hunt against him rather than have the spotlight fall on his recalcitrant stance. Zuma failed to appear before the commission on four occasions this year, while he left without permission in November 2020 when he last appeared.  

Zuma is understood to have spoken for two hours. In a soliloquy of unhappiness, he told the ANC Top six that he was being set up by a biased judge (Zondo) and that he had been treated unfairly by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela’s report into State Capture is the basis of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. Zuma told the ANC leadership had usurped his power by finding that he could not appoint the judge to chair the commission.

He said the ANC was not standing by him and that the judiciary was biased against him.

Zuma had hoped that the top six officials, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, would make the pilgrimage to Nkandla. His plan now is to establish himself as an important elder political figure holding court at his estate, funded by the taxpayer to the tune of R246-million.

For all of 2021, there has been a steady stream of visitors to Zuma’s home, from EFF leader Julius Malema, who arrived by helicopter, to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who arrived in a police cavalcade in February.  

Cele has refused to say what was on the agenda, but both he and ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte were probably dispatched by Ramaphosa to persuade Zuma to avoid a rule-of-law crisis and get himself to the Zondo Commission’s hot seat before it prorogues at the end of March. Even megarapper Cassper Nyovest visited Nkandla’s Jay-Zee.  

There has been a steady stream of visitors to Jacob Zuma’s home, including Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Photo: Dudu Zuma-Sambudla / Twitter)
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng visits former president Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla homestead. (Photo: Dudu Zuma-Sambudla / Twitter)
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama with former president Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Dudu Zuma-Sambudla / Twitter)
Leaders of the Congress of South African Students visit Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Dudu Zuma-Sambudla / Twitter)

The meeting with the officials was supposed to be a show of unity and respect for the commission and the rule of law, but the strategy has now gone pear-shaped despite the ANC’s gloss after the Zoom meeting with Zuma. There was never confirmation it was going to be in-person. 

Zuma has built a significant social media political personality with the assistance of his daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla.  She appears to have moved to Nkandla, where she showcases all her dad’s high-profile visitors on her Twitter timeline, which has quickly built a following of 50,000 followers. Zuma’s own account (@PresJGZuma) has more than 538,000 followers. The account is used to amplify all Zuma’s official communication without the intermediation of “old” media. This gives him a direct line to the many people who view his defiance of the Zondo Commission as cocking a snook at authority – a populist stance, but one often regarded as heroic in South Africa.

In a briefing on Monday night, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said the party’s top six officials had held a “very wonderful” five-and-a-half-hour meeting with former president Jacob Zuma.

He had explained to them why he had not and would not appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture – but Zuma had then said he was still consulting his lawyers.  “[We agreed] to give him space to continue consulting with lawyers to decide whether he will appear or not.

“We all agreed there was not any intention [presumably on Zuma’s part] to undermine the Constitution,” said Magashule, who added that Zuma had complained of “unfair prosecution and persecution over decades”.

Magashule ad-libbed his own critiques and on several occasions referred to the State Capture probe as “the so-called Zondo Commission”.  He also seemed to draw a distinction between the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. DM

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All Comments 38

  • What a farce! It just plays into his hands and those of the RET. Why the special treatment that is NOT afforded to any ordinary citizen? You break the law and ignore the subpoenas to appear, one is arrested. Let the law run it’s course and call the bluff of these brain-dead and vacuous morons!!!

    • It is a farce which should not be condoned. They are all members of an elected party by the citizens and as such must be subjected to thr same rules of any citizen. They should be locked up so that the right message is sent.

  • My take on Magashule’s press conference, and his lacky, called Pule, is that SA is f…..! To even write about is, like this article, and to read it, is a waste of time.

  • The ping pong played yesterday by the arrogant Brian Molefe is mind blowing. All these criminals believe they’ve done nothing to aid and abet state capture. So Zuma’s stance is in line with this warped thinking.

  • My concern with the Con Court granting an order of committal for contempt in the Commission’s application is whether or not it will actually be enforced, bearing in mind that it will be Cele and his useless bunch that will be required to arrest and incarcerate JZ.

  • Every crook has been to visit jz. (That includes the top 6 on Zoom.) He is very obviously still #1 and is also obviously above the law. This is a banana republic of note. Let’s sit back and watch the circus.

  • “We all agreed there was not any intention [presumably on Zuma’s part] to undermine the Constitution,” said Magashule” Crooks agreeing with a crook. It is disgusting.

  • While it may play into his hands to be the victim if he was jailed, I think it must be done. Else a court ruling and the constitution becomes meaningless and another step down the road to anarchy.
    Already a few other mamparas refuse to appear before the commission. What is going to happen to them?

  • It is an insult to have pictures/paintings of Zuma standing next to our South African flag after denigrating all it stands for!

  • This is a disgrace . The country has so many important issues to resolve but top 6 can allocate over 5 hours to put party and individuals before the country . Perhaps a good idea is to disband the NPA , PP and courts and lets just accept the lawless society instead of this sham- no one in jail !!

  • Just who do this top six think they are? There is no negotiation required, Zuma is in contempt of court and should have been arrested weeks ago.
    These people are making a mockery of the law and the constitution. They are a disgrace and should hang their heads in shame.

    • Joe. I agree, but sorry to burst your bubble. There is NO shame in the anc. There is no integrity in the anc. There are many crooks in the anc, though.

      • The bubble is still intact Gerrie. I was simply being polite, I doubt if what I wanted to say would have past the moderators.

  • At one stage, there was a discussion on when Zuma’s state income and perks could be taken away from him. This discussion has gone cold – surely now is the time to have a serious look at this matter – or should we just until the law/constitution becomes meaningless . Come on DM.

  • This one gets treated with kit gloves; elevated far above the rule of law. But that’s how the #ZANCsters roll…they sit, in awe, at the feet of the corrupt. They respect, what I don’t respect.

  • Wiley JZ- no surprises there. Middle finger to the establishment-Done. Gain popular support-In play. Dis-ease the ANC-Busy with. Be judged in contempt-Soon enough. Next-get mysteriously ill, grab passport, head off to Emirates Hills, wait for Ace to rise, get pardoned + home in a year or 2. Sorted.

  • A hands-off attitude towards Zuma is a clear pathway to an oligarchy and back to the bad old days of Apartheid. But instead of racial segregation, it will be permanent class segregation.

  • I am entranced by the photo montage. Only tea with Malema missing. What a bunch of plonkers, host included. As Macleod has inferred, the COSAS “leaders” are indeed a weighty bunch, their collective intelligence just sparkles.

  • Tin pot dictator sitting on his ripped throne – what a joke. Banana republic. The 246 million spent on Nkandla wasn’t enough to reupholster the throne?

  • This article and the press release of Civil Societies are concerned. Strongly feel that the latter should mobilise the broader public to protest against corruption, and promoted by the media. Groups of 250 each, thousands of them all over the country. Cities, towns, villages. The biggest event ever.

  • Zuma does pretend to be a victim while living a life of luxury on his grandiose and sprawling Nkandla estate. A two year jail sentence may well play right into his hands, but it is a risk that I’m quite happy to take.

  • General observations:
    1. Zuma should check with Sarkozy.
    2. Somebody should hack those THREE cel phones. One official, two burners?
    3. Clearly the pilgrims all need a serious obesity consultation. Please comrades, look after your health.

  • Well done, ace. You have succeeded in tipping the scale in favour of the looters once more. But it is useless, as there is not much more left to loot. Bankrupt SOE’s, dysfunctional municipalities, potholed roads, compromised law enforcement !and PP,no separation of powers – a broken moral compass.

  • Nkandla was built with money stolen from the taxpayer. Seize it and turn it over to the community to be used as a recreation center with a swimming pool, sorry, fire pool, library, clinic etc. Cease paying his pension etc and slam him in prison. That will send the right message to all his ilk.

  • Gotta love this country. One crooked ANC bigwig reports back on a five hour meeting with another crooked ANC bigwig. Like it’s going to be worth repeating any of that rubbish to anybody! Heaven help South Africa. With elected leaders like these, who needs a one party Zimbabwe-like state?

  • So what now? Utterly predictable and farcical moves by the ANC governing body. We need to act now and together and protest – maybe thousands of emails or paper petitions signed and dated and sent To Cyril Ramaphosa‘s office. We really have to do something that sends a clear message

  • Zimbabwe really came apart when the land invasions started and the judges were overruled by the mob, who invaded the Chief Justice’s chambers,and forced him to resign. The rule of law went out the window. How close are we to that here?

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