'Jacob Zuma has done nothing wrong, leave him alone': Ace Magashule
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has slammed those calling for the removal of former president Jacob Zuma from the ruling party, describing them as populists seeking the media's attention.
A livid Magashule expressed these sentiments on Wednesday on the sidelines of a visit to the home of the late anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Rebecca Kotane.
He was speaking just days after Zuma publicly said he would defy a Constitutional Court order that he must appear before the state capture inquiry.
On Monday, Zuma said he would not co-operate with the inquiry despite the apex court's ruling compelling him to do so. He said he did not fear imprisonment should his decision be considered a violation of the law, a move which has been heavily criticised.
However, Magashule said Zuma had done nothing wrong.
“What has Zuma done now? Just leave comrade Zuma alone. President Zuma is a South African. He has his own rights,” Magashule said.
The ANC in the Eastern Cape, however, has called for his suspension from the party.
Responding to this, Magashule said: “No, why should we suspend a person who believes in what he believes in? Why should we call him into order when he's done nothing wrong? There is no structure of the ANC, be it a province or region, which can call for Zuma to be disciplined. They are out of order. They are populists who always try to do this, and the ANC is quiet about these populists who like to appear in the media.”
The state capture inquiry, which has since said it would open a criminal case against Zuma for failing to appear before it last month, said it would consider further action should he go ahead and defy the ConCourt by failing to appear again in two weeks' time.
Magashule maintained his position on the former president, despite huge criticism.
“President Zuma has a right to do what he wants to do,” he said, though the NEC had not yet discussed the matter.
Asked if he thought Zuma was treated unfairly by the courts and the state capture inquiry, Magashule said he had his own views.
“I have my views, I respect comrade Zuma. We will one day talk about what is happening in South Africa. There are many wrong things which are happening in this country today. We can go to the days of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission], where Botha [apartheid-era former president PW Botha] refused to go to the TRC and nobody said anything.
“There are TRC prosecutions which are supposed to have happened, they are not happening. You are quiet about that - people who killed us in the days of apartheid.”