Africa & World

Free Zuma Campaign gives Ramaphosa 14 days to address issues

  • The Free Zuma campaign has promised to continue protesting until the former president is released from prison
  • They have given the government 14 days to address the issues that sparked the protests which include high unemployment in inequality
  • The violent protests saw South Africa plunged into a week of chaotic destruction as angry mobs took to the streets looting and demanding Zuma’s release

The Free Jacob Zuma Campaign on Friday demanded that the arms deal corruption charges against the former president be withdrawn immediately.

The demand was listed among several others — including his immediate release from the Estcourt prison, where he is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt —  in a rhetoric-laden statement read out by ANC member and political commentator Phapano Phasha on the Christian television channel LoveWorldSAT.

“President Zuma must be released immediately, and all the legal targeting and persecution that he has endured, including the sham of an arms deal case must stop immediately,” she said, reiterating a claim repeatedly voiced by Zuma’s supporters that he would be able to restore calm to the country after a week of violent protest if he was released. 

“Only a free president Zuma can address our nation and call for calm … as long as he is imprisoned his hands are tied,” she said.

The statement claimed that Zuma was unjustly jailed by a biased judiciary and that his release must be a first step towards overthrowing a political order that sought to appease white capitalists who hated and abused Africans.

“We are not oblivious as to the actual reasons behind president Zuma’s unfair treatment by the judiciary. Having overseen the adoption in 2012 of the radical economic transformation agenda and the second phase of our national democratic transition meant he led a direct assault on white monopoly capital,” Phasha said.

“And for this sin alone, a smokescreen has been created to characterise him as the most corrupt, when none has laid a winnable case against him in any court of law.

“The chief justice warned us against a judiciary that is being captured, yet there is no commission of inquiry into the capture of the judiciary,” she added.

She said the movement was seeking to secure Zuma’s release, and the former president did not approve of the looting that has devastated Pietermaritzburg, Durban and poor areas of Johannesburg this week.

It was a symptom of pervasive inequality and was being used by his foes to criminalise legitimate calls for his release, she said.

Phasha accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of doing nothing to address the root cause of the violence but focused instead on allaying the fears of investors.

The government needed to be “uprooted and replaced” by a socially just order and indigenously controlled economy that would serve the needs of Africans in particular.

“The stranglehold that white monopoly capitalism has on our economy, literally squeezing the last drop of blood out of the black poor, has to come to an urgent and immediate end,” she said.

“White monopoly capitalism and the parasitic black comprador capitalist that continues the exploitation of our people are our main enemies. They must be declared persona non grata. Their removal from power and continuing control over our economy and lives is non-negotiable and cannot wait a day longer.”

Phasha appeared on television alongside former ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus, who was arrested outside Estcourt prison last week for breaching Covid-19 regulations and has been suspended from the ruling party for the inflammatory speeches he made at Nkandla — before Zuma handed himself over to the police — while wearing an ANC T-shirt, bringing the party into disrepute. 

Phasha was associated with Gupta-aligned television station ANN7, laid charges against former acting South African Revenue Service commissioner Mark Kingon and in 2019 laid a complaint against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan with the ANC’s integrity commission on the back of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings against him, which have since been set aside by the high court. – M&G

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