JZ says comrades hurt him

Canaan Mdletshe

"I have been wounded by friends," Jacob Zuma said when he emerged victorious from the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday afternoon.

"Sengimanxeba nxeba zinsizwa engakhula nazo. sengimanxeba nxeba zinsizwa [my body is full of wounds inflicted on me by men I grew up with]," was how Zuma described his feelings immediately after Judge Chris Nicholson had ruled in his favour.

Shortly after Nicholson's two-hour judgment, Zuma emerged and spoke to thousands of his supporters, before leading them in singing a song that expressed his feelings about the way he has been treated in the ANC.

"As a male, growing up in my home town in Nkandla, an insizwa would lead others in singing this song to express how he felt about the way he had been treated.

"The song tells how he has suffered physical and emotional scars inflicted by people he grew up with. And I feel that," he told his supporters before breaking into song.

Zuma displayed his emotions without restraint. He said he had struggled to deal with the treatment from people within the ANC.

"I was facing the most difficult time of my life. I was attacked left, right and centre by the law and the media. And when a few individuals defended me, I was attacked for being quiet.

"I was asked why I was not stopping [Julius] Malema and [Zwelinzima] Vavi. But you have stood by me and have shown your unwavering support. I thank you for that," he told two of his most outspoken supporters.

Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, described the song as a powerful political statement about Zuma's experiences.

"He was capturing the incidents, the sufferings and emotions he went through from 2003 when Bulelani Ngcuka indicated that there was a prima facie case against him, his release from the government, the rape case and the corruption charges. It is a very powerful statement, which describes how he feels about the treatment," Ndlovu said.

Zuma said he noted that before the Polokwane conference last year few of his organisation's leaders had attended his court appearance. But the number had swelled since the conference, which had realigned the balance of power.

"I don't know who was threatening them," he said.

The ANC president said the judge's ruling should provide a lesson for South Africa. "I believe this judgment should serve as a lesson to us as a country, a lesson particularly to the legal fraternity. It is a victory for the judiciary, a victory for democracy and a victory for our justice system."

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said it was now time for the ruling party to advise the National Prosecuting Authority to withdraw the charges.

"As the NEC, we will be meeting from September 19 to 21, where we will discuss the judgment thoroughly and make a pronouncement," he said.