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'I am in trouble... Why should I meet them?' says Zuma of ANC's top brass

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist

On his last day of supposed freedom, former president Jacob Zuma spoke to hundreds of his supporters outside his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. His son Duduzane Zuma and suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule also fired up the crowd with songs and chants. Sunday was Zuma’s final day to hand himself over to police to serve a 15-month prison term for contempt of court. However, the Constitutional Court, which made the ruling, allowed a last minute application to rescind the sentence, meaning Zuma remains free until the hearing on July 12 2021.

Former president Jacob Zuma on Sunday night gave the clearest indication yet that he was not prepared to listen to any advice from the ANC top six and the party's national executive committee (NEC) regarding his legal woes.

Asked whether he had met the party’s top brass this week following the judgment of the Constitutional Court, which sentenced him to 15 months in jail for contempt, Zuma responded: “Why should I meet them?” 

FULL ADDRESS | Zuma speaks in Nkandla after meeting with lawyers

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The ANC NEC postponed its meeting this weekend and deployed some of its members to Nkandla to talk to Zuma. It was also understood that the party’s top six were due to meet with the embattled former president.

The only two NEC members deployed in the province to set foot at Zuma's home this week were his sympathiser Lindiwe Sisulu and long-standing close ally, Tony Yengeni. Others, including Fikile Mbalula and Bheki Cele, had not shown up by Sunday night.

An MK vet stands guard outside former president Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla.
An MK vet stands guard outside former president Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Speaking at a media briefing, Zuma said he had too much on his plate to worry about ANC officials and NEC members.

“I am in trouble… why should I meet them? Why should they not meet me?” asked Zuma.

Zuma frequently described himself as being sentenced "without trial".

This week he met the ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala and provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli in a marathon meeting that appeared to have been one-way traffic, with Zuma informing him of his stance against the ConCourt judgement.

Former president Jacob Zuma addressed the media at his homestead in Nkandla on July 4, 2021. Zuma said his prison sentence was, in effect, a death sentence as his poor health and the risk of Covid-19 could lead to his death inside a jail cell.

Zuma earlier on Sunday addressed his supporters, most wearing ANC regalia and singing pro-Zuma songs, with a distinct anti-Ramaphosa tone.

Zuma responded angrily when asked whether the events of this week outside his home were not undermining the authority of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

“Did I start any event? If it is about my name, is it my business? The Constitutional Court made a judgment. It is not me. Why then should I answer if it's good for the country or not?" he said.