A Gauteng-based group calling itself the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Support Group for President Jacob Zuma has announced plans for a three-day mass action against what they term as the political persecution of the former President.
At a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the group said the recent warrant of arrest issued against Zuma earlier this month was a sign that the judiciary has “entered the political arena.”
Their spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, said, “With this unfortunate ruling, Judge [Dhaya] Pillay plunged the judiciary straight into the political arena and shredded any hopes of President Zuma, who has been subjected to vicious vilification in the court of public opinion, receiving a free and fair trial.”
Niehaus questions judiciary’s independence
According to Niehaus, the group consists of rank and file members of the African National Congress (ANC), the ANC Youth League in Gauteng, Congress of South African Students (Cosas) , ANC’s alliance partners and various civil society organisations.
Niehaus said Zuma’s corruption trial has long been politicised through the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and a “tainted” judiciary.
He added, “Pillay called into question the adherence of the judiciary to its sacred constitutional mandate of independence.
“She has laid bare for all to see that the doctrine of separation of powers in the instance of this trial of President Zuma is a farce and fiction.”
‘Slow implementation of RET resolutions’
Niehaus said Zuma’s supporters will march to ANC headquarters Luthuli House on 4 May to register their unhappiness at Zuma’s “persecution” and the “slow” implementation of the party’s RET resolutions.
He said, “We further believe that there is a direct link between the persecution of President Zuma and the awful reluctance and dragging of feet to fully and with speed implement the pro-radical economic transformation resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the ANC.”
Their second march will be to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head office on 5 May “to register our outrage at the manner in which they are using the prosecution of President Zuma for political meddling and subversion.”
Niehaus said their third march will be to the Pietermaritzburg high court on 6 May, the day Zuma is scheduled to reappear for his corruption trial, to show their solidarity with the former President.
Zuma’s SONA attendance in doubt
He added that the group will organise a “mass welcoming” of Zuma back to South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport when he returns from treatment overseas.
In this regard, Niehaus cast doubt on whether Zuma will attend the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, saying the latest information he had was that the ex-President was still out of the country.
Parliament had earlier on Wednesday confirmed via its Twitter account that Zuma will attend SONA.
Niehaus also lamented that while apartheid’s last President FW de Klerk will be “afforded VVIP treatment” at SONA, Zuma continues to be “vilified.”
The press conference was also attended by dozens of Zuma supporters, many of them wearing ANC regalia. Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama was also in attendance.
Some also displayed placards with the words “Trevor Manuel and Pravin Gordhan despise black excellence” and “South African media propaganda tool for white monopoly capital – with or without our struggle continues.”