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JAILED former South African President Jacob Zuma secretly negotiated terms for handing himself over to prison with top Correctional Services and police officials without the knowledge of key ANC leaders in his inner circle.
Leaders of the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) forces and some family members were in the dark over negotiations – ongoing even on Tuesday – for Zuma to surrender and serve his 15 months sentence for contempt of court, a report by the Sunday World reveals.
A source said Zuma’s turning himself in had thrown the RET forces, led by suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, into turmoil and weakened the party’s local government election campaign in KwaZulu-Natal.
“JZ [Zuma] family, Carl Niehaus [suspended spokesperson of the defunct Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA], did not know that JZ had decided to hand himself over. He did it behind their backs,” the mole said.
“He [Zuma] met with several people as early as Tuesday, including Arthur Fraser [National Commissioner of Correctional Services] whom he knows from exile. They agreed that he will hand himself over and serve at Estcourt,” the source added.
Zuma on Wednesday night handed himself in at the Escourt Correctional Centre on the 11thhour, after the Police Department indicated that he was going to be fetched from his house by a specialised team of cops.
“RET forces are now on the backfoot with JZ being in prison. He has been their kingpin, seen to command support but he disarmed them especially his senior supporters in the ANC on the ground,” the leader said.
Nhlakanipho Ntombela, ANC KZN’s spokesperson, said Zuma’s arrest posed a threat to the stability of the country, and had thrown their election plan into disarray.
“We have to sit down as the PEC and take stock of what has happened. But we are not in dispute that the arrest of Zuma is not an ideal situation for the party and the country. That is why we are also moving to call for his early release,” said Ntombela.
The party’s KZN chairperson and premier Sihle Zikalala has called for a presidential pardon for Zuma. This came as violent protests to free Zuma erupted in KZN, with indications it will spill over to Gauteng.
The #Release Zuma campaign has been gaining momentum with key economic zones in the province engulfed by violent protests. especially on the N3.
The protests, said the organisers, have also been planned for Gauteng province with various hostels said to be the breeding ground for the unrest, and targeted for them.
Ngizwenkosiyami Mchunu, one of the march organisers, said a gathering was planned for Gauteng’s famous traditional market kwaMai -Mai. Taxi operators, both from Gauteng and KZN, have also been roped in to lead the protests.
On Saturday, videos circulated of cars making their way to Gauteng to demand the release of Zuma. Zweli Dladla, the coordinator of taxi associations in KZN, said from Monday they would join other taxi associations in Gauteng.
“There will be chaos and blood on the streets and nothing will move until Zuma is released,” he said. Nkosentsha Shezi, a staunch Zuma supporter and former ANC Youth League leader, told Sunday World on Saturday that Zuma’s arrest would leave irreparable damage to the governing party.
“UMsholozi [Zuma] is the father of radical economic transformation and was the only remaining true liberator of the marginali sed.
“He is the political heavyweight and the glue that kept the ANC together in the province.
“It was his presence which ensured that the ANC recorded decisive victory in all elections. “
Even people who were not supporters of the ANC, they voted for him and believed in his vision for the country,” Shezi said.
Fraser could not be reached for comment.