Newly elected KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala has committed to offering continued support for former president Jacob Zuma during his court appearances on corruption charges.
Zikalala said certain sectors of society wished to see Zuma without any support during his legal battle, something he said would not happen.
The ANC provincial chair blasted the media for apparently misrepresenting his stance on showing support for Zuma through a misleading account of a radio interview where he spoke on the matter.
It was reported that Zikalala had made an about-turn, during an interview on SAfm on Monday, on his earlier call on the ANC to support the former president.
He said on radio that he had come to agree with the party’s national leaders that ANC members should not be allowed to use party structures, or appear in ANC colours, to mobilise support for anyone accused of corruption, including Zuma.
“They are writing stories without asking us any questions. They misrepresented an interview where I spoke with clarity on the matter and wrote their own lies,” Zikalala told the throng of supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where Zuma appeared on Friday.
However, the Citizen had reported that Zikalala had clarified on Wednesday that they would not completely distance themselves from Zuma and that Zikalala still supported him. It would just not take place in an official manner through the party.
During the ANC’s elective conference in Durban at the weekend, Zikalala called on the party’s national executive committee to review its decision not to support Zuma during his court appearances.
Outside the Pietermaritzburg court, Zikalala said the province had supported Zuma in 2005 and in 2006 when Judge Qedusizi Msimang struck the fraud case against the former president off the roll.
Zikalala committed to continue to show support for Zuma, saying the support would be there again during his next court appearance on November 30.
“Even during his first appearance, it shocked us that every time Zuma went to court, they would say the charges have not been completed; even today, 17 years later, they are making amendments adding different things,” the provincial chair said.
The prosecutor wanted to add another charge against French arms company Thint, Zuma’s co-accused in his corruption case.
“We want a fair trial without undermining the law. Former president Zuma has our support as the people of KZN,” Zikalala added.
He said the show of support was not undermining the decision by the ANC not to support Zuma in his trial, saying the support for the former statesman was because of what he had done for the country.
Zikalala said his show of support was being made in his personal capacity, not in his capacity as the ANC’s leader in the province.
He said that what Zuma had done for the country included fighting for freedom, taking the lead in the distribution of ARVs and introducing free higher education.
Zuma had earlier appeared in court on one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud relating to his involvement in the controversial arms deal in the 1990s.
The case was postponed until November 30.