Zuma loyalists mobilising 'huge numbers' of supporters

RET Champions pulling out all the stops ahead of former president's Zondo commission appearance

Zuma loyalists mobilising 'huge numbers' of supporters ahead of Zondo commission appearance

10 July 2019

As former president Jacob Zuma's anticipated first appearance at the Zondo commission fast approaches, his sympathisers are preparing a show of support outside the commission's venue in Parktown, Johannesburg, next week.

A group calling themselves Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Champions are pulling out all the stops to mobilise support for the controversial former president.

Zuma is expected to appear before the commission from Monday to Friday next week.

The group, which has supported Zuma in most of his court appearances in KwaZulu-Natal, said it expected huge numbers of supporters to turn up.

"We, as ordinary citizens, have decided Radical Economic Transformation is a way forward. We respect the former president as the father of RET and land expropriation without compensation. RET forces are throughout the length and breadth of the country.

"Smaller parties who align with RET have also been invited to show support," RET Champions chairperson Nkosentsha Shezi said.

Shezi said the smaller parties they were appealing to include the African Transformation Movement (ATM), African Content Movement (ACM) and Black First Land First (BLF). He said, while they had commitment from ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal, they were still rallying people and businesses to fund the bussing in of supporters to the venue.

BLF president Andile Mngxitama said he had been approached by the RET group, but they had opted to show support on their own.

"We are mobilising on our own and we are calling our members and our leaders to be at the Zondo commission. We are going to join forces with whomever supports Zuma. Our position has not changed. He is a victim of white monopoly capital. A number of groupings have called and we have said we are mobilising on our own."

ACM president Hlaudi Motsoeneng said, while he supported Zuma in principle, the party was not mobilising to support him outside the commission venue in Parktown.

Motsoeneng denied any interaction with the RET Champions.

ATM policy head Mzwanele Manyi denied any knowledge of the group.

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus said he was aware that the group was mobilising on the ground. He said individuals from the MKMVA would also make an appearance at the commission in support of the former president.

Niehaus, a staunch Zuma supporter, has made several appearances at Zuma's court cases in Pietermaritzburg, where he faces charges of corruption and fraud.

"We are happy to mobilise with anyone who is supportive of comrade Zuma. It doesn’t mean, when we do mobilisation, we necessarily support their agenda. I am aware of the group RET. I am aware they are mobilising and we have no problem with that. They are mobilising in their own right and we are in support of that."

The commission had requested that Zuma provide an affidavit by June 12.

Zuma has been linked to allegations of state capture by several witnesses, including former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) boss Themba Maseko, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, ex-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, current ministers Pravin Gordhan and Fikile Mbalula, and former Bosasa (now African Global Operations) operations chief Angelo Agrizzi.

The commission heard that Zuma had allowed the Gupta brothers to influence the appointment of ministers, giving them access to the coffers of state-owned enterprises.

But Zuma has repeatedly said that there is no evidence against him.