I’m being targeted by haters – Zuma

Even though Jacob Zuma has resigned as president of South Africa and been charged with corruption, he still has loyal supporters.

The Zuma of old is still here – the crowd pleaser, the charmer and tactical politician. This is the Jacob Zuma who boldly addressed crowds outside the Durban High Court minutes after his brief appearance on 16 charges related to fraud and corruption.

Mr Zuma believes the re-instatement of the charges which were dropped back in 2009, after reports of political interference, are once again politically motivated.

A sure, perhaps even defiant, Mr Zuma told crowds that he is being targeted by political foes both within his own ruling African National Congress (ANC), and opposition parties who were against his attempts to bring economic empowerment to black people here.

Fringe groups such as the Black First Land First movement, now aligning with Mr Zuma, believe that under the new leadership, the ANC is pro-white capital. It argues Mr Zuma was unceremoniously removed from his position as party leader and president to protect white business interests.

It would seem Mr Zuma, in part, believes so too.

“I have never seen it before where someone is charged with a crime, those charges are dropped and then 13 years later those same charges are re-instated. This is a just a political conspiracy”, he said in Zulu.

“Even those I trusted are treated me like a convicted criminal,” he said, describing the case as one full of lies and conspiracy.

The crowd, about 2,000 people, cheered as he spoke. It was a much larger gathering than the one which held an all-night vigil at a park for him a few 100 metres from the courthouse on Thursday night – but numbers aside, the support is certain.

Obed Mbatha took the day off work to support Mr Zuma in court

“Zuma is always being targeted. People are always trying to tarnish his name. I will support him until a court proves that he is guilty. For me he is innocent until a court finds otherwise,” Durban resident Thembi Sibiya told me.

And that is the sentiment of the supporters here who had composed songs in honour of the former statesman.

Obed Mbatha, who says he grew up with Mr Zuma and considers himself a friend, took the day off work to come and support Mr Zuma.

“I believe he is innocent more than the word innocent. Mr Zuma has done a lot of good for South Africa but that is being overshadowed by this case. He is being persecuted by his enemies – I have no doubt about it,” the 76-year-old said.

Mr Zuma might enjoy great support but he cast a lonely figure inside the courtroom earlier, where he sat as an accused in the dock alongside a representative of his co-accused, the French arms company Thales.

Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red tie, he sat quietly with his eyes fixed ahead, as the lawyers dealt with the day’s proceedings.

The appearance lasted just over 10 minutes. Judge Themba Sishi told Mr Zuma to come back to court on 8 June.



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