After tabloid Sunday World reported that former president Jacob Zuma has gone to Cuba for medical treatment, social media reacted with no small measure of incredulity to the news.
The reactions have been a mix of condemnation that he is allegedly not using the South African medical system, disbelief at the report itself and speculation that he may be trying to somehow use it to escape a looming corruption trial along with other legal issues, including allegations he levelled at the Zondo commission investigating state capture.
Jacob Zuma is in Cuba receiving medical treatment over an allegation that he was poisoned. This guy is starting to get mad. He's a mad man.
— The Vendalist (@CadreFloyd) December 8, 2019
You and me still need to use it no matter the trust!
Jacob Zuma, who screwed our Healthcare system, is flying to Cuba enjoying 5-star treatment, at our expense, all the way!
I cannot wait to see where our honourable President Ramaphosa will go for his healthcare!
— Phylax (@PhylaxZa) December 8, 2019
Next story to break – “Zuma terminally ill and in no condition to return to SA, will spent his last days in Cuba” or other haven for political crooks and fraudsters.
— Establishment Blues (@establue_1) December 8, 2019
It must be noted that his medical trip has not been officially confirmed, but it reportedly relates to Zuma’s alleged poisoning at the hands of one of his estranged wives. The paper reports that numerous sources close to Zuma told them he either doesn’t trust South African doctors or thinks they can’t deal with poisonings. They all maintained he had gone to Cuba to a “secret hospital”, a concept that also left a few readers scratching their heads.
Apparently, the former president, now aged 77, may even be struggling with his memory of late, which could prove useful in court.
We have some of the best, if not the best, medical staff in the world in South Africa, but Zuma's flies to Cuba? Mugabe used to fly to Singapore. The rest of us must use the NHI? FUCKADOODLEDOO!
— Craig Dennis (@SirFingGrumpy) December 8, 2019
Last month, a former state security minister appointed by Zuma, Bongani Bongo, claimed that he went to Cuba to be treated for poisoning, allegedly suffered at the hands of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Gordhan dismissed the allegation as utterly absurd.
Bongo needed to return to South Africa from Cuba to be arrested by the Hawks on bribery charges after allegedly trying to derail a parliamentary inquiry into alleged state capture at Eskom.
“You know recently I was given a poison so I was going to finalise my treatment in Cuba, so I had to cut my trip very short from Cuba to come and attend to what the police had called me for,” said Bongo. “I was in Cuba for a treatment of the poison I got recently.”
Bongani Bongo was either scouting hospitals for Zuma in Cuba or his results from the hospital he visited are so good he recommended it to Zuma.
— GibraltarZA (@GibraltarZA) December 8, 2019
So now #zuma is being flown to Cuba? because he is sick (poisoned?). We are getting closer to his day in Court he wanted so badly. (Almost as badly as #malema now wants his.????) Can anyone say: #ShabirShaik?????????
— ALETTAHA???????????????? (@ALETTAHA) December 8, 2019
In September it was reported that Zuma’s estranged wife Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, known as MaNtuli, would not be prosecuted for an alleged poisoning attempt on him in 2014 while he was president, owing to an apparent total lack of evidence.
Earlier this year her lawyers appealed to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shamila Batohi to make a decision on whether she would be charged in the case.
Though MaNtuli has been at the centre of the allegations since 2015, she has consistently denied that she tried to poison her husband.
Addressing the ANC Cadres’ Forum in Phongolo, KwaZulu-Natal in 2017, Zuma said he became a target after calling for radical economic transformation.
“I was poisoned and almost died just because South Africa joined Brics [the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa economic bloc] under my leadership. They said I was going to destroy the country,” Zuma said.
KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions advocate Elaine Zungu said in a letter to the Hawks this year, however: “There is no evidence that Mr Zuma was poisoned.”
Zuma, it turns out, had never even provided a statement in the matter, so was not even a complainant.
It was reported in October that MaNtuli would be suing the NPA and the Hawks for “malicious prosecution”.