KZN legal and religious leaders behind JZ

Mhlaba Memela and Sapa

Mhlaba Memela and Sapa

Key KwaZulu-Natal legal and religious leaders have thrown their weight behind Jacob Zuma's quest for the ANC presidency.

Today, Zuma is expected to attend a prayer service organized by Sanco in Pietermaritzburg.

Sanco spokesman Dumisani Mthalane said the event was organised by the civic organisation and the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Council of Churches. It will be held at Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

"We will pray for Zuma and wish him well. We will also pray that all the delegates in Polokwane engage each other democratically and show respect for each other and the organisation. Our hope is that in their deliberations, the leaders will reach an outcome that is in the interest of the poor, that they will take us forward and end poverty in the country," said Mthalane.

Yesterday, a meeting arranged between Zuma and King Goodwill Zwelithini was called off. One of the facilitators of the meeting, Siza Ngcobo, said "the king is engaged in a meeting with traditional leaders but we are hoping the meeting will be held today".

Yesterday afternoon, popular maskandi group Izingane Zoma met with Zuma at the SABC headquarters in Durban to thank him for his support. The group recorded a dramatic sales increase in their latest CD, which includes lyrics about Zuma and the succession debate.

Last night, Durban charismatic church leaders and their supporters were to hold a special prayer service for Zuma. The event, led by eThekwini Community Church (ECC), was instrumental in ordaining Zuma a pastor earlier this year. ECC senior pastor, Vusi Dube, said the purpose of their prayer was to ask God to be at the forefront of the conference.

On Tuesday evening, a group of lawyers arranged a special convention and dinner in Pietermaritzburg to show their support for Zuma.

l Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki was yesterday working on his speech for next week's ANC national conference in Polokwane, head of the ANC presidency Smuts Ngonyama said.

"The president is busy writing his speech . he will not be speaking at any scheduled events as such this week," Ngonyama said.

He said the speech might take quite some time to write because it reflected on Mbeki's past five years.

Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga - asked about Mbeki's movements for the rest of the week - said: "There is nothing in his diary for the week . it simply means he is not going to be speaking anywhere, as far as we know."

The first item on the agenda of the conference, which gets under way on Sunday, is a "political report" to delegates by Mbeki.

It is billed to take place at 9.30am.